Changing the way people live and making everyday life convenient are essentially what technology aims to do. In the era where most everything is automated and digital is ruling several industries, the rest of the world is forced to catch up and find ways to optimize life from the average smartphone.
Mobility and peer-to-peer transportation is a system in society that has not yet been mastered. Public transportation is constant chaos whether you’re in a first or a third world country, and traffic congestion has become next to none as one of the most distraught and abandoned socio-environmental issues that a lot of governments have seemingly given up on.
With the help of technology and modern-day developments, people are able to contribute to the solutions of mobility and public services with transportation networking apps like Lyft, Grab, and Uber all over the globe. Developing a mechanism that allows sustainable practices for both the environment and passengers have become an ongoing priority in smart tech companies like Uber. However, in the past 10 years of its existence, Uber’s growth and development have fluctuated.
It’s been reported last March 25 by Vox that Uber and Lyft drivers in Los Angeles have gone into a one-day bender against the company through a protest. The drivers and mobility partners of the company refused to pick up riders as part of their strike against Uber’s faulty decision to lower pay rates for LA drivers. Hundreds of drivers attended the protest and were found all over the streets of LA, chanting and making their voices heard outside the headquarters of Uber in suburban LA.
The 25-hour strike organized by Rideshare United, a coalition of drivers in Southern California that was established last year brought out hundreds of angry and frustrated drivers from all over the city to express their grief publicly to Uber. The ride-sharing app cut wages of their drivers up to 25% in their per-mile earnings, which translates to a measly 60 cents, according to Gizmodo. What made Uber drivers more infuriated with the company’s decision was that they did not issue a formal notice or explicitly stipulate it in their terms and conditions.
Drivers for Uber are categorically independent contractors for Uber and not just mere employees, which make matters worse since the company is prioritizing the company restructure over their core-operators, which are their drivers.
The spokesperson for Uber told Gizmodo via email, “Drivers told us that they value promotion opportunities, so we’re introducing a new Quest promotion feature, while also changing the per minute, per mile and minimum fare rates.” This restructure is supposedly going to pave the way for new changes that will bring back the earning rates Uber drivers had prior to the cutoffs. “These changes will make rates comparable to where they were in September while giving drivers more control over how they earn by allowing them to build a model that fits their schedule best,” the spokesperson further elaborated.
It’s not just Uber and Lyft drivers that are enraged with the wage cuts, but people all over the internet, as well, including Reddit users, who ran a grassroots campaign in an effort to stand with the protestors. Politician Bernie Sanders also tweeted his support on social media, saying, “I stand with Uber and Lyft drivers striking in LA. One job should be enough to make a decent living in America, especially for those working for multibillion-dollar companies. Drivers must be paid the wages they deserve.
The organizer of the protest, Esterphanie St. Juste countered Uber’s upcoming restructure plans, stating their drivers earn the majority of their money from mileage and not minutes. “In 2015, I was making between $1.15 and $1.20 per mile,” she said. “Today, I’m making fifty percent of that,” she added.
It’s not just the wage cuts that have irritated the drivers, according to LA Magazine. Drivers also complained about the payment process of the company, stating it is deliberately opaque and conceals the real commission rates the company takes from a single ride they complete every day.
The main purpose of the driver strike is to get Uber to notice them as fair and equal partners instead of mere freelancers on the side. Uber drivers in Los Angeles are after getting paid due amounts that they deserve and not just earn the same amount they earned half a year ago. According to Vox, there’s no clear outcome or expected shift in decision making from Uber in the face of the protest, but if New York City was able to pull off demanding Uber and Lyft to pay them with a fixed living wage, then Los Angeles drivers sure aren’t backing down from trying too.
There’s much more to uncover from this issue, and it will definitely require more from Uber’s end, but in the meantime, support your local Uber and Lyft driver by avoiding cancellations and making it to the pickup location on time.