Uber is preparing for their much anticipated IPO next week. Their first day of trading will be on Friday on the New York Stock Exchange, which is pretty nerve-racking, but that’s not the only thing Uber have to worry about with ride-hailing drivers looking to go on strike a couple of days before the company goes public. Now, these drivers are not limited to Uber workers only as other drivers, like Lyft drivers, will be there too with the same demands.
A taxi union announced on Friday that the protest will be happening Wednesday next week in New York. Drivers from Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, San Diego, Philadelphia and Washington will be attending for two hours starting from 7 a.m. ET.
The New York Taxi Workers Alliance (NYTWA) explained that the drivers demand job security, liveable income an a reduction in the amount ride-hailing companies collect from fares which seems fair enough. With Uber being the most widely used taxi service around you’d think they would be able to provide their drivers with a better working environment.
Sonam Lama, a NYTWA member and Uber driver since 2015 explained in a statement, “Uber claims that we are independent contractors even though they set our rates and control our work day. Uber executives are getting rich off of our work. They should treat us with respect. We are striking to send a message that drivers will keep rising up.”
These protests highlight Uber’s problem with finding a way to lower driver costs in order to become profitable whilst still paying their drivers just enough to retain their services. At this point I’d like to remind you that Uber reported a net loss for the first quarter of 2019 of $1 billion so these protests put Uber in a bit of a pickle. They’ve even said themselves in their IPO filing that the business would be “adversely affected” if their drivers were classified as employees instead of independent contractors.
Uber hopes to be valued between $80.5 billion and $91.5 billion.
Lyft on the other hand has said in a statement that their drivers’ hourly earnings have increased over the last two years. “Over 75 percent drive less than 10 hours a week to supplement their existing jobs. On average, drivers nationwide earn over $20 per hour,” they explained.