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Uber, Lift drivers are planning to strike in more than a dozen major cities

The strikes are expected to occur over large US cities, as well as parts of the UK, Australia and South America. Participating drivers say they intend to send a message to Uber and its rivals: They want viable revenue, job security, and regulated prices, including requirements.

In San Diego and Los Angeles, drivers have stopped working for 24 hours. In Atlanta, workers are planning to log off riding company programs for 12 hours. And in New York City, a two-hour strike is scheduled from 7:00 AM to 9:00 AM, which is busy commuting hours.

In addition to turning off their apps, drivers will keep rallies in strategic locations, such as outside of local Uber offices.

The collective action comes on the heels of the March strike in several of California's cities over the latest paychecks that occurred before Lift ( LIGHT ) was published. It was organized by Rideshare Drivers United, a group that speaks for Los Angeles-based workers.

The same group planted the seed for Wednesday's protest, and many more local working groups have announced similar strikes in solidarity. It is expected to be the largest internationally coordinated effort against the current companies to date.

Why drivers are striking

Drivers push for better treatment and improved conditions, but the specific requirements vary by organization group. For Rideshare Drivers United, they include having a chosen driver representative added to the boards of Uber and Lyft, a 1[ads1]0% commission on driver earnings, the introduction of an hourly wage similar to New York City, and a transparent and fast appeal process for when drivers are disabled. (They are just a few of the desired protections, according to a rights declaration on the Rideshare Drivers United's site.)
  Uber and Lift Drivers are planning to strike and rally in front of Uber's IPO

Both Uber and Lyft have built their businesses at the back of the drivers. Like other gig economy companies, the two have long argued that their drivers are independent contractors. That status means that employees do not receive the same rights as employees, such as minimum wages, overtime, work compensation, unemployment insurance, paid sick leave or work expenses. Both companies have stated that their businesses will be "negatively affected" if drivers were classified as employees instead of contractors.

At the same time, the competition between the two, as well as the smaller companies, intended to engage in price scales. Uber and Lift bleed money, and how much drivers do is the biggest cost they can control.

As a token of goodwill, the companies have offered drivers who meet certain thresholds for cash bonuses before they go public. But it has not been enough to appease the wider pool of workers.

"With IPO, Uber's business owners are set to make billions, while drivers are left in poverty and go bankrupt," said Bhairavi Desai, CEO of New York's Taxi Workers Alliance, one of the organizations calling for drivers to strike. in a statement.

According to a recent study by Georgetown University's Kalmanovitz Labor Force Initiative and Working Poor, who spent two years investigating the working conditions of 40 Uber drivers in the DC area, 33% took on debts that resulted in Uber driving.
Another newspaper, released on Tuesday by the Economic Policy Institute, found that the Uber drivers earn the equivalent of $ 9.21 in hourly wages after factoring in commissions, fees, and vehicle expenses, as well as health insurance, and other expenses.

Why strikes happen now

The protests have been purposefully scheduled to take place just before Uber's anticipated debate on public trading on Friday – one of the greatest moments in the company's ten-year history .

Uber has become a household name, and the most valuable private startup in the United States, after raising outstanding venture capital. It embraced a growth-to-all mindset, even when it meant questionable ethical means, including dodging regulators.

  Lifting drivers question company future as a public company

After cofounder and CEO Travis Kalanick was withdrawn from the company in June 2017 after a number of PR crises, and the company's board dropped Dara Khosrowshahi, then head of Expedia, to correct and publicize the company. Now Khosrowshahi will be retained to Wall Street's pressure to build a sustainable business. A big variable he and the company will continue to intervene on that path: its drivers.

Although drivers have tried to form a union, independent contractors are not covered by the same organization protections as employees in terms of labor laws.

Arun Sundararajan, 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 the driver groups. "Are they actually most of the drivers?" he said. "As the freelance workers' collections evolve, they must come up with ways to induce participation by offering compensation."

What It Means For Uber

The company's ability to attract and retain drivers will continue to be important if they want to keep their customers happy with fast timers.

While Uber has been working to improve relationships with drivers, the company has emphasized investors in S-1 that "it cannot assure our pricing model or strategies will succeed in attracting consumers and drivers."

Sundararajan said he does not expect the strike in front of the IPO to reduce investor needs. Most investors, he suggests, are already aware of the ongoing issues between Uber and its drivers.

However, the problem may worsen after Uber investors and executives convert their wealth into paper status into rich-in-real-world when the company goes public. Workers will continue to face an uncertain future, while Wall Street is sure to carefully examine driver costs.

At present, it is unclear how many drivers will participate in the strikes, which are largely planned and encouraged by local communities and working groups. Uber alone counted 3.9 million drivers around the world at the end of last year. What is clear is that this may be the biggest driver protest in the US yet, and a sign of what lies ahead of the business.

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