Boston, MA– Uber and Lyft drivers around the U.S. held rallies during a nationwide strike on Wednesday May 8. According to CNN Boston, the strike was to be “the biggest internationally coordinated effort against the ride-hailing companies to date.”
The strike was planned in advance of Uber's initial public offering, which is expected to bring in billions of dollars for the company's leaders. This is too much for Uber drivers, who are demanding more in terms of wages, benefits, and job security. They say that as time goes on, they are having to work longer hours for less and less pay since Uber keeps changing drivers' pay rates.
In Boston, striking Uber drivers will be joined by Lyft drivers, who face similar challenges with their employer. Boston drivers for ride-hailing apps are represented by The Boston Independent Driver's Guild, which is organizing the Boston drivers' strike. Senator Ed Markey tweeted his support for the drivers on strike:
Mostafa Makled, an Uber driver helping to organize the protest in San Francisco, stated: "[Uber is] pressuring everyone to drive 70 to 80 hours a week. And that needs to stop." Drivers do not expect to benefit from the IPO because ride-hailing companies classify their drivers as independent contractors instead of employees who are entitled to benefits.
Strikes took place in at least ten major U.S. cities, with sister strikes in the United Kingdom, Australia, and South America. The kick-off happened Wednesday morning at 7 a.m. in London and will last until the end of the day.
Drivers are asking passengers to boycott the app and shut down the application on their phone in order to make the impact of the strike felt in the corporate offices. In addition, many drivers will be holding rallies outside local Uber offices (including at the Saugus location) to gain more public attention for their cause.
As a gesture in response to complaints of low pay, and to give drivers a chance to earn more, Uber is awarding bonuses to drivers who have completed 2,500 trips or more before April 7, 2019. Drivers will receive $100 for completing a minimum of 2,500 trips, and they’ll be able to get up to $4,000 if they’ve completed 40,000 trips.
The cities that planned to go on strike in the U.S. are Chicago, Washington, Boston, Atlanta, Philadelphia, San Diego, San Francisco, and Stamford, Connecticut. During the strike, MassDOT advised travelers to take Logan Express instead of a rideshare to the airport.