Driver protests, strikes cast shadow on Uber IPO

REDONDO BEACH CA- MARCH 25 Driver and strike organizer Nicole Moore speaks during a one-day strike against Uber and Lyft in front of an Uber office. Over 200 drivers marched with signs and protested a recent 25% deduction in pay for Uber drivers

Arun Sundararajan, a professor at New York University's Stern School of Business, told CNN Business that the strikes will be an interesting test of the strength of driver groups. So what are they asking for and how do officials think it will impact our area?

The protests have been purposefully planned to take place just ahead of Uber's expected public-trading debut on Friday - one of the biggest moments in the company's 10-year history.

Simmering tensions between drivers and ride-hailing companies are flaring again, as drivers in major cities across the US and the United Kingdom went on strike Wednesday over low wages and unstable working conditions.

The Boston Independent Drivers Guild, which represents local ride-hail drivers, announced Sunday that it would join the action in a show of solidarity, according to WBUR. "That's a major piece of the transparency issue".

But there appears to be no easy way to satisfy both drivers' calls for higher wages, and investors' demands that Uber eventually make money.

Laurel Hirschmann, pictured here on May 6, 2019, drives seven days a week for ride-hailing apps like Uber but still struggles to make ends meet.

The company also noted inits S-1 filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission that it funneled $300 million back to some 1.1 million longtime drivers via an appreciation program in late April.

The new system has frustrated many drivers, who say their paychecks have decreased as it has become harder to capitalize on driving hours when passengers are willing to pay more. Waymo has been providing rides through its "early rider program" since late previous year, and though early riders are no longer bound by NDAs you still need to be part of the program to hail one of its autonomous vans through their app. "They eliminated that. What they really did is create opportunity for a much higher degree of manipulation". "My condition as an Uber driver has gotten worse and worse". The system is akin to an itemized receipt, however, not a live taxi meter.

"Whether it's being able to track your earnings, new safety features, or stronger insurance protections, we'll continue working to improve the experience for and with drivers".

Lyft spokeswoman Chelsea Harrison said driver earnings in Seattle have increased 14% over the last two years, and the average Lyft driver in Seattle earns more than $20 an hour.

"Uber's archrival in North America, Lyft, went public last month at a valuation of $24 billion".

Lyft said its losses deepened as a result of $894 million in costs that included stock-based compensation and related tax expenses in connection with its initial public offering in late March. "Most of [the] drivers living in San Francisco are forced to work at least 70-80 hours a week in order to survive in the city". The company often makes these changes without a lot of warning or explanation to drivers.

Meanwhile, pro-labor political leaders expressed support for the demonstrations Wednesday. Some drivers may not even know there's a strike going on today, while others might not feel invested enough in the union's goals to participate.

Backing from politicians in Britain's Labour Party, including opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn, could help encourage customers to stay away, according to Farrar.

"Stand with these workers on strike today, across the United Kingdom and the world, asking you not to use Uber between 7am and 4pm", he wrote on Twitter, adding the hashtag #UberShutDown.

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