App drivers strike in Lower Manhattan over Uber lawsuit hitting brakes on wage increase

Uber drivers went on a dramatic strike Monday over the ride-sharing giant’s ongoing lawsuit seeking to halt mandatory wage increases.

Beginning at midnight on Dec. 19, hordes of Independent Drivers Guild members looked to not only strike against the app-based taxi organization but to also incite a boycott for the day. A fleet of motorists who walked off the job for the action made their voices heard by temporarily blocking traffic on the Brooklyn Bridge as they drove toward Manhattan.

The armada of Uber vehicles could be seen stretching under the shadow of the iconic bridge’s looming masonry. Drivers pounded their horns while passengers hung signs from their windows as they flocked into Foley Square where they gathered outside of the Thurgood Marshall United States Courthouse to publicly lambast Uber.

The drivers cross the Brooklyn Bridge. Photo by Dean Moses

“Our message to Uber is to stand down and drop the lawsuit. They’re doing this because they want to stop future raises. They’re being proactive, so they can stop future raises because what we’re getting now is peanuts,” driver Raul Rivera said.

Drivers charge that their employer is attempting to steal the holiday season by using the lawsuit to block raises for some 100,000 cabbies. Drivers also state that the pay rise was originally intended to go into effect on Dec. 19. after workers demanded the raise for years. Uber disagrees, however.

According to Uber, pay has gone up 38.4% on a 7 mile and 30-minute trip since 2019. The company argued that the call for the raise was, in large part, due to rising fuel costs, something Uber says it has seen a dramatic decrease in since earlier in the year.

Photo by Dean Moses

“Drivers do critical work and deserve to be paid fairly, but rates should be calculated in a way that is transparent, consistent and predictable. Existing TLC rules continue to provide for an annual review tied to the rate of inflation; that’s one reason why driver pay has gone up 38.4% since 2019,” a spokesperson for Uber said.

Drivers are not buying this argument. They are doubling down and putting the pedal to the metal when it comes to their demands.

“It means an extra gallon of milk. It doesn’t mean much. That’s why we have fighting because that’s ridiculous,” Rivera said.  “We move this city, we run this city, including during the pandemic. They say we are essential but now we don’t get our money.”

Photo by Dean Moses