Uber Technologies Inc. and Lyft Inc. drivers in major U.S. cities staged a strike on Wednesday demanding better pay and the right to unionize, a sign of the intensifying fight by gig workers for more labor protections.
The demonstrations, organized by Rideshare Drivers United, call for drivers and passengers to turn off Uber and Lyft apps on Wednesday and boycott services to advocate for better pay, working conditions, and the ability to organize and collectively bargain. Rallies were scheduled in cities including Los Angeles, San Francisco, Boston, Cleveland, Las Vegas, Pittsburgh, Denver, Baltimore, and Austin, Texas. The group didn’t immediately offer an estimate for how many drivers participated.
The protest is the latest move by gig workers who have pushed for an expansion of labor rights and reclassification to gain hourly minimum wages, overtime, paid sick days, unemployment, and worker’s compensation benefits. Proponents of making app-based rideshare and delivery drivers employees were dealt a setback in California with the passage of Proposition 22 in November, which deemed gig workers contractors while providing a limited set of alternative benefits.
“We will continue to fight for the PRO Act and a voice on the job until app-based drivers have the pay, benefits, and respect they deserve,” said Brian Dolber, an associate professor at California State University at San Marcos who serves as an organizer for Rideshare Drivers United.
In a statement, Lyft said drivers in top markets, including California, are making more than $30 an hour. An Uber spokeswoman said the company “will continue to work collaboratively with Congress and our diverse community of earners on meaningful solutions to improve the quality and security of independent work.”
The strikes also come as Uber and Lyft are trying to recruit drivers to meet the explosion in demand for ride-hailing as cities reopen. Many have been slow to get back behind the wheel after finding other work or resorting to government stimulus benefits during the pandemic. According to Rakuten Intelligence, the nationwide supply crunch has led to longer wait times and higher fares for passengers, which cost 53% more in June than before the pandemic.
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