Holly Quan/KCBS Radio

Uber and Lyft Drivers Stage Protest

They Seek Attention Ahead of Uber IPO

KCBS Radio Morning News
May 08, 2019 - 7:04 am

SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS Radio) -- With Uber's expected multi billion dollar initial public stock offering just two days away, some drivers for the ride-hailing platform and its rival Lyft staged a protest on Wednesday.

Organizers of the effort asked drivers to turn off their ride-hailing apps, essentially taking their vehicles out of the pool of rides available to users.

Uber driver Jeffrey Perry said his pay has been shrinking. Perry said three years ago, he could earn $300 to $400 by driving for eight hours in San Francisco. Now, the Sacramento resident says it takes 15 or 16 hours to reach $300 in earnings.

Another Uber driver, Nam Doan, is seen in the photograph at the top of this story.  He told KCBS Radio he drives in San Francisco from 4 am to 4 pm, six days a week, and his earnings have been slipping. He'll continue to drive during the Wednesday protest because he says his earnings support a wife and three children and he can't afford to take the day off.

Organizers of the protest point to the nature of the relationship between the ride-hailing platforms and their drivers. Uber and Lyft consider the drivers to be independent contractors, meaning they lack such benefits as health care, vacation, or workers compensation insurance.

The companies tout the benefit of what Uber advertises as a "side hustle". University of Illinois professor Michael LeRoy, a specialist in labor law, acknowledges the freedom is attractive to some drivers. "Certainly it benefits a lot of people," LeRoy told KCBS Radio,"but a growing number are unhappy and it's not just in the United States."