Driven mad: Uber drivers strike for second time in a month as they pursue higher wages

Uber drivers motored off the job Thursday, the second time in a month, over their ongoing pay gripe with the ride-sharing service.

Hundreds of drivers logged out of the app at 12:01 a.m. on Jan. 5 in the massive, daylong strike over what the driver’s union charge is a lawsuit that blocked pay raises just before the holiday season. Workers are not only calling upon fellow drivers to force quit the app, but they are also asking customers to boycott rides for 24 hours.

“They don’t think about the drivers, they just think about themselves. We are suffering, we are suffering because of the car payment, insurance, the food, gas, mechanic—everything has gone up,” driver Samassa Tidiane said. “They don’t care about us!”

Photo by Dean Moses

In a scathing response to the strike, an Uber representative said: “Every time the taxi association calls for a strike, drivers demonstrate they’re more interested in delivering for New Yorkers than social media discourse. Today has been no different,” arguing that pay has already gone up.

Uber argued that the driver pay has gone up 38.4% on a 7-mile 30-minute trip since 2019 and rate adjustments have been made since that time. It is believed that the original raise was to combat gas prices, yet the company says gas prices have now decreased.

During the early morning rush hour (7 a.m. to 10 a.m), Uber reported, approximately 1.4% more drivers were online in the last two days with rider requests remaining the same. Uber believes that the strike did not interfere with business, since there were still customers and drivers utilizing the app. 

Photo by Dean Moses
Photo by Dean Moses

Hundreds of drivers rallied on Jan. 5 outside of the Uber headquarters on 75 Greenwich St., where they waved banners and roared “Raise now!” and asserted that their employer is attempting to use the lawsuit to block raises for some 100,000 cabbies. The app workers say that they are hardly able to make ends meet due to rising costs of living and car maintenance prices.

“The Taxi and Limousine Commission voted to require Uber and Lyft to raise how much they pay drivers per mile and per minute on every single trip. Every American knows that the cost of bread and milk has gone up higher than it’s ever been in 30 years. While household expenses have gone up by almost 8%, the cost of operating a car for a professional driver paying for gasoline, for insurance, for repairs, for maintenance—all of that has gone up by 250% more,” said Bhairavi Desai, founding member of the Taxi Workers Alliance. 

“​​We fought for that raise. We won that raise. Uber has no right to steal that raise. This raise belongs in the hands of the drivers, not in the pockets of Uber! Drivers are the ones that pay the expenses. Drivers are the ones that put their lives at risk,” Desai added. 

The strike was scheduled to end at 11:59 p.m. Thursday.

Photo by Dean Moses