BOSTON (WHDH/AP) — Drivers for ride-hailing giants Uber and Lyft planned to turn off their apps Wednesday to protest what they say are declining wages at a time when both companies are raking in billions of dollars from investors.
Organizers are demonstrating in 10 U.S. cities, including Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco and Washington, D.C.
They timed their protests in advance of Uber’s initial public stock offering, which is planned for Friday. Uber aims to raise $9 billion from investors and is expected to be valued at up to $91.5 billion.
It’s not the first time drivers for ride-hailing apps have staged protests. Strikes were planned in several cities ahead of Lyft’s IPO last month, although the disruption to riders appeared to be minimal. This time more cities are participating.
“Drivers built these billion dollar companies and it is just plain wrong that so many continue to be paid poverty wages while Silicon Valley investors get rich off their labor,” said Brendan Sexton, executive director of the Independent Drivers Guild, in a statement. “All drivers deserve fair pay.”
Felipe Martinez of the Boston Independent Driving Guild called on ride-sharing drivers in the city to switch off their app for 24 hours.
“You have people from the West Coast to the East Coast organizing a strategic strike and action on one day,” he said. “They have to listen, and their shareholders better listen. It’s not a good investment.”
In New York, striking drivers planned to shut down their services during the morning rush hour from 7 a.m. until 9 a.m., while drivers in Los Angeles are set to strike for 24 hours and set up a picket line at Los Angeles International Airport.
Lyft said its drivers’ hourly earnings have increased over the last two years, that 75% of its drivers work less than 10 hours per week to supplement existing jobs and that on average the company’s drivers earn over $20 an 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,” Lyft said.
Strikes are also planned in Atlanta, Philadelphia, San Diego and Stamford, Connecticut.
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