Uber strike fizzles in New York with plenty of cars on road

NEW YORK – A planned strike by New York Uber drivers fizzled on Monday and there appeared to be plenty of cars on the road despite a call by drivers for a boycott of the app.

The New York Taxi Workers Alliance, a union representing the city’s yellow cab and rideshare industry, had asked Uber drivers to turn off their app for 24 hours starting at midnight on Sunday to protest Uber Technologies’ attempts to block wage increases approved by the city’s Taxi & Limousine Commission (TLC) last week. The pay bump was supposed to go into effect Monday, but is on hold pending a court hearing on Jan. 31.

Some drivers remarked in Facebook groups where workers congregate at how there wasn’t morning surge pricing, a sign there were still sufficient cars on the road to meet customer demand. 

“Some drivers live day to day and Christmas is coming,” said Uber driver Fernando Feliciano, 50. 

A spokesman for Uber said the company hadn’t seen any disruptions in service due to the strike and isn’t concerned about driver supply. “Since 2019, driver pay has gone up 38.4 per cent and drivers are out there today doing critical work for New Yorkers, not listening to political chatter on Twitter,” he said.

The spokesman said there were 3 per cent more drivers on the road between 7 a.m. and 10 a.m. in New York, compared with the typical Monday over the last six months, and wait times were in line with the average.

Pay rates for Uber and Lyft drivers were set to increase by 7 per cent per minute and 24 per cent per mile, according to the TLC, with a sample trip of 30 minutes and 7.5 miles (12 kilometers) requiring a minimum payment of US$27.15. Uber said the city’s calculation of the per-mile rate increase is misleading and that it is actually 16 per cent, taking into account mandated annual adjustments implemented in 2020 and 2022.

The Independent Drivers Guild, which represents roughly 80,000 Uber and Lyft drivers in New York, said more than 500 of its members hit the streets on Monday morning, marching from Brooklyn to the Thurgood Marshall US Courthouse in Manhattan in protest of the decision to block pay raises.

Drivers asked New Yorkers to support their cause by not using the app on Monday. 

“Uber wants to pay nothing more to the drivers whose labor creates the company’s profits,” said New York Taxi Workers Alliance Executive Director Bhairavi Desai. “New York City drivers are mostly full-timers who invested in cars just for the job and who depend on this income to feed their families.” BLOOMBERG

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