Uber & Lyft Drivers To Ruin Morning Commutes With Worldwide Strike

Lyft carpooling press image

"We want Uber to answer to us, not to investors", Sonam Lama, an Uber driver and member of the New York Taxi Workers Alliance (NYTWA), said in a statement ahead of Wednesday's strike.

In general though, workers are protesting blockbuster paydays for high-level executives while driver pay continues to get slashed.

The strike comes just over a month after Uber and Lyft drives in several California cities logged off for a day in late March to protest the same issues-low pay and questionable corporate culture-before Lyft went public on March 29. Qualified drivers in the United States, Uber said in its filing, will get $100 to $10,000 (roughly Rs. 7,000 to Rs. 7,00,000) based on trips taken.

Total costs and expenses rose more than 200% in the quarter as it stepped up its promotional activities to compete with rival Uber, although a contribution margin improvement to 49.6% from 35.4% pointed to greater efficiency.

In San Diego and Los Angeles, drivers are slated to cease working for 24 hours. "Most of the things they're striking for, we already have in NY", says Brendan Sexton, executive director of the Independent Drivers Guild, a nonprofit that helped push for the minimum pay legislation in NY.

According to a recent study from Georgetown University's Kalmanovitz Initiative for Labor and the Working Poor, which spent two years investigating the working conditions of 40 Uber drivers in the D.C. area, 33% took on debt that resulted from driving for Uber. "We provide an essential service, but Uber and Lyft investors are only ones reaping the benefits".

"If you believe in the Amazon model, you basically believe that Wall Street will fund these companies indefinitely with nearly zero cost of capital, as long as they post these extraordinary growth rates", said Renny Ponvert, CEO of independent research firm Management CV.

Uber is scheduled to price share in the IPO, expected to be the biggest of 2019, on Thursday, and then begin trading on the New York Stock Exchange on Friday.

FILE - This Tuesday, June 12, 2018, file photo shows the Uber app on a phone in NY.

"Lyft drivers' hourly earnings have increased over the last two years, and they have earned more than $10 billion on the Lyft platform", the spokesman said.

While Uber has also cited studies showing its USA drivers were earning between $18-$20 per hour, a 2018 analysis by the Economic Policy Institute came to somewhat different conclusions. "There is a lot of hype around Uber and the gig economy".

Drive United said the action was in solidarity with protests in the USA and other areas of the world where drivers struggle with the independent contractor model.

"We don't want our wages to stay just minimum". The Uber and Lyft IPOs have shown a harsh spotlight on contradictions at the heart of these companies' business models: Both companies are losing money, yet growing rapidly, which has attracted ample investment to keep them afloat.

As tokens of goodwill, the companies have offered drivers who meet certain thresholds cash bonuses ahead of going public.

Correction: An earlier version incorrectly stated the Uber IPO would raise $90 billion in new capital for the company.

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