Uber and Lyft drivers plan to strike and rally ahead of Uber’s IPO

Posted at 10:14 PM, May 06, 2019

Rideshare drivers are planning to strike and rally again — this time, ahead of Uber’s impending IPO.

Drivers in New York City are expected to protest by logging off ridehail apps for two hours on Wednesday morning, according to the New York Taxi Workers Alliance. Drivers in other cities, including Los Angeles and San Francisco, are also expected to strike.

The drivers intend to send a message to Uber, which is reportedly slated to begin trading as a public company next Friday: They want livable incomes, job security, and regulated fares. That’s according to the NYTWA, which represents 21,000 professional drivers — including drivers for Uber and Lyft — in New York City, Uber’s largest market.

The drivers also plan to rally outside the Long Island City offices for both companies Wednesday afternoon.

Uber and Lyft have built their businesses on the backs of drivers. But the competition means engaging in pricing wars, using discounted prices to attract riders. Both companies are bleeding money and what drivers make is the biggest cost they can control. As tokens of goodwill, the companies have offered drivers who meet certain thresholds cash bonuses ahead of going public.

But it hasn’t been enough to appease the broader pool of workers. Drivers similarly went on strike ahead of Lyft’s IPO to voice concerns over recent pay cuts.

Notably, New York City is the first and only market to have implemented a minimum wage law for ridehail drivers. Under the new policy, which went into effect on February 1, drivers are supposed to earn a minimum take-home wage of $17.22 per hour. That’s the ridehailing equivalent of a $15 minimum wage, accounting for the fact that drivers have to cover payroll taxes and don’t get paid time off.