Protests are already underway with drivers in Detroit, D.C., Chicago, Los Angeles, Houston, Phoenix, Boston, and New York pledging support. The Uber Freedom Facebook page has posted about nationwide protests already underway Friday afternoon ahead of the big day.
The drivers’ demands are pretty specific:
$7 minimum fare
60-percent rate increase for UberX (lower-cost) rides
- $7 cancellation fee
- An option for users to tip on the app
The strike was organized by former Kansas City Uber driver Abe Husein. He told alt-weekly The Pitch his account was deactivated in August when Uber discovered his organizing a Facebook page. Husein owned one rental property in town and was using his Uber earnings to save up for another when Uber lowered their fare rates. In Husein’s view, that left drivers working for pennies an hour.
Here’s how he breaks the math down:
“Think about it: Uber is now charging $1 a mile here,” Husein says. “Of that $1, Uber takes $0.20 off the top. In addition, Uber takes a $1 ‘safe-ride’ fee. Then calculate the average cost of operating a vehicle per mile, which is about $0.58, according to AAA. When I was driving for Uber, I put 800 miles on my car every week. You destroy your car in a matter of years driving like that.
There are more numbers that don’t favor Husein: Uber has about 160,000 drivers working as independent contractors, so there don’t need to be too many scabs to pick up the slack. Additionally, an online petition demanding better treatment for drivers has fewer than 2,000 signatures as of Friday.
Meanwhile, Husein touched down in San Francisco on Friday afternoon to bring the fight straight to Uber’s headquarters. As for Uber itself, the company has not responded to interview requests, but sent a fairly unworried statement to NBC, writing: “We always welcome feedback from driver-partners. Each week, tens of thousands of drivers across the U.S. begin using the Uber app to make money wherever and whenever they’d like.”