Feb. 27, 2023 By Ethan Marshall
Drivers for Uber and Lyft joined together to engage in a 12-hour strike at LaGuardia Airport Sunday, Feb. 26, in response to the rideshare companies allegedly being reluctant to grant pay raises, with Uber filing a lawsuit last December to block a pay hike.
This strike marks the third action taken by either the workers or companies since the lawsuit was filed. Among those on hand who spoke at the strike were state Senator Jessica Ramos, Councilman Shekar Krishnan, Assemblyman Zohran Mamdani and New York Taxi Workers Alliance (NYTWA) Executive Director Bhairavai Desai.
The local leaders each voiced their support for the workers. During the 12-hour strike, which ran from noon to midnight, the protesters held picket lines outside the airport. This blockage of the area for cars and cabs was meant to symbolize the importance of the work these drivers perform in New York City.
“We’re going to call [Uber and Lyft] out and make sure they feel the pressure so that they change their ways,” Ramos said. “It’s not okay for you to have to pay for your car, for your car insurance, for any tickets, for all of your healthcare, for you to figure out your own retirement plan. Those are things a good boss does for their workers.”
Mamdani said he felt as though this issue symbolizes the struggles of just about every worker in the city in that corporations are attempting to pass off as much cost to their workers while also trying to retain as much of its profits as possible. He said that the workers for Uber should view the company’s $8.6 billion reported revenue for the final quarter of 2022 as being their money, as it was their labor that created all that revenue for the company.
“If Uber thinks that they can go to court and stop this raise, we are going to show them that we can defeat them,” Mamdani said. “We will defeat them. We will win this raise, we will stop these deactivations. If their business model cannot handle paying workers what they are due, then it is a business model that deserves to die. If your company cannot do what is right, then what business does your company have in New York City?”
While the earnings for these companies have been very high in recent quarters, the workers have said that they’ve been struggling to get by. According to a recent report from UCLA, these companies have actually been taking a larger cut in passenger fares than the workers who drive them. However, a spokesperson for Uber had previously denounced the report.
“If they looked at all the data rather then ignoring the vast majority of months as well as incentives, bonuses and surge pricing — driver earnings are up 41.7% since 2018,” the Uber representative told amNewYork Metro last week. “Uber’s cut has declined to around 16% and government taxes and fees have exploded to make up 18% of rider payments on average.”
Amid inflation and rent hikes in New York City, the drivers have refuted this claim. They said that the 39% increase resulting from the changes mentioned by the representative still would not be enough for them to be able to live in New York City.