Some New York City Uber drivers are striking once again Thursday in a continued fight against the rideshare platform’s efforts to block a pay raise set by the city’s Taxi and Limousine Commission (TLC).
The gig workers are shutting down the Uber app for the entire day and asking riders to take other modes of transit to put pressure on the company, marking the second time in less than a month drivers have stopped work in the area.
“Every American knows that the cost of bread and milk has gone up higher than it’s ever been in 40 years,” Bhairavi Desai, executive director of the New York Taxi Workers Alliance, said during an afternoon rally that attracted several dozen gig workers outside of the company’s New York City headquarters.
“We fought for that raise. We won that raise. Uber has no right to steal that raise,” she added. “This raise belongs in the hands of the drivers, not in the pockets of Uber.” If the raise were to go into effect, rideshare pay rates would go up by 7% per minute and 24% per mile, according to the commission. Uber has said that calculation is misleading.
Rideshare companies were instructed to increase drivers’ pay under new guidelines from the TLC, starting December 19. But Uber sued the TLC in early December, saying in a filing that the increase in rates “would irreparably damage Uber’s reputation, impair goodwill, and risk permanent loss of business and customers.” A judge temporarily blocked the wage increases for rideshare workers. Now, drivers are awaiting a decision this month on whether the stay order will continue until the end of the case—or if they’ll be granted a raise for the time being.
“Every time the taxi association calls for a strike, drivers demonstrate they’re more interested in delivering for New Yorkers than social media discourse,” an Uber spokesperson told Fast Company following the rally. “Today has been no different.” The spokesperson added that 1.4% more drivers were online during Thursday’s morning rush than the same time period in the past two days, while rider requests have remained flat.