Uber and Lyft drivers are striking ahead of Uber’s IPO

With Uber expected to make its debut on the public market by Friday, May 10, on-demand ride-hailing drivers are planning to strike on Wednesday. The New York Taxi Workers Association is calling on U.S.-based drivers to stand in solidarity with drivers in London and log off from both Uber and Lyft on May 8 between 7 a.m. and 9 a.m.

“In the IPO filing, Uber said drivers will only get more dissatisfied because they plan to cut our pay and stop incentives,” NYTWA member Sonam Lama said in a press release. “We don’t want our wages to stay just minimum. We want Uber to answer to us, not to investors. The gig economy is all about exploiting workers by taking away our rights. It has to stop. Uber is the worst actor in the gig economy.”

In San Francisco, drivers are organizing a protest at Uber’s HQ followed by a 12-hour app shutoff. In a statement to TechCrunch, an Uber spokesperson said drivers are at the core of its service.

“Drivers are at the heart of our service — we can’t succeed without them — and thousands of people come into work at Uber every day focused on how to make their experience better, on and off the road,” an Uber spokesperson said. “Whether it’s more consistent earnings, stronger insurance protections or fully funded four-year degrees for drivers or their families, we’ll continue working to improve the experience for and with drivers.” When Lyft went public, “it was a sad day,” Gig Workers Rising organizer Shona Clarkson told TechCrunch last month.

“It’s hard to see this company making tons of money when you have insecure housing or aren’t sure you can make rent or pay medical bills,” she said.

In response, Lyft drivers went on strike in San Francisco and San Diego. While some drivers want to be W-2 employees and others don’t mind being 1099 independent contractors, these drivers are united around wanting higher wages, transparent policies around wages, tips, fare breakdowns and mileage rates, benefits and a voice, Clarkson said.

“Lyft drivers’ hourly earnings have increased over the last two years, and they have earned more than $10 billion on the Lyft platform,” a Lyft spokesperson told TechCrunch. “Over 75% drive less than 10 hours a week to supplement their existing jobs. On average, Lyft drivers earn over $20 per hour. We know that access to flexible, extra income makes a big difference for millions of people, and we’re constantly working to improve how we can best serve our driver community.”

As part of their respective IPOs, both Uber and Lyft offered some drivers bonuses but pale in comparison to what executives will walk away with. Lyft, for example, offered some drivers up to a one-time bonus of $10,000. Similarly, Uber offered some drivers a bonus up to $40,000.

Drivers I know who were offered that deal from Lyft in the lead up to IPO were incredibly insulted and angry about it,” Clarkson said. “Both companies just do a lot of PR work to make it seem like they’re treating drivers well.”

Uber is pricing its IPO between $44 to $50 a share, seeking a valuation up to $84 billion. Lyft set a range of $62 to $68 for its IPO, seeking to raise up to $2.1 billion. Since its debut on the Nasdaq, Lyft’s stock has suffered after skyrocketing nearly 10% on day one. Lyft is currently trading at around $60 per share.

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