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Uber Uber HQ, drivers require a cut of wealth



Protesters take over Market Street to demonstrate in front of Uber's headquarters in San Francisco.
Photo: Patrick Howell Neill

SAN FRANCISCO, California ̵

1; Just days before Silicon Valley's most hyped mega-IPO, a group of hundreds of Uber drivers gathered in front of the company's headquarters in San Francisco and took over the street in a protest that requires fair wages, benefits and greater openness from the rideshare giant.

Friday is set to be the biggest day in Uber's history: The company is publicly listed on the New York Stock Exchange in one of the largest stock exchanges in American history. It is without a doubt the biggest IPO this year – a year full of Silicon Valley companies that hit the stock market. Even though the company lost over $ 1 billion last year, its executives, engineers, and investors – including Saudi Arabian royal – will be in the IPO fortune.

But uber drivers around the country and around the world say their own pay falls despite working longer hours and that the company should give them more.

"Uber has cut my wages over the past two years," said Derrick Baker, a Northern California driver, Gizmodo on Wednesday's strike. "It's full-time or part-time, bad prices are bad prices. So we're here at HQ and asking for a living salary."

A 2018 study found that wages for drivers of companies like Uber and Lyft had fallen 53 percent since 2013, when a number of new drivers joined the market. In the Bay Area, home to Uber and Silicon Valley itself, some drivers drive heavily to live. A number of drivers allegedly plunder from hours and sleep in parking lots to get their numbers up.

US Uber drivers have become increasingly organized in recent years. Bringing workers together is a unique challenge from the 21st century: There is no central workplace, no common way of communicating, committing, and challenging management. But places like airport parking spaces and Facebook groups have been a fruitful basis for conversations to get motorists involved.

Uber has never once sat down with the organizing drivers to discuss their complaints. Last year, the drivers delivered a letter complaining about the company's lack of transparency. A Uber security guard demanded the driver with the petition outside the company's headquarters where Wednesday's protest took place.

It was a sunny day in San Francisco on Wednesday when drivers, journalists, police and work organizations overcame Market Street in front of Uber's headquarters. A brass band supporting the strike played for over an hour while workers sang, gave speeches and talked to journalists. It was peaceful, happy even at times, and was a successful bid by the drivers to get a light on their complaints.

Some employees of the Uber company rushed at noon's protest to grab lunch while many more stuck it out in the office. A few dozen saw the protest unfold from the building's balcony, weapons and observe, but not say much.

Among those who were back on the street, Gordon Mar, a San Francisco supervisor, claimed red flags about the split between the city's thriving tech sector and its working class.

"If you're a Uber driver, you're struggling to work 70, 80 or even 90 hours a week," said Mar Wednesday while standing in the middle of Market Street with drivers and other protesters in front of Uber & # 39; s HQ. "We are here today because we are in solidarity with the Uber drivers."

Mar has been in recent talks with the city's technological giants on how to deal with the influx of wealth that happens because of what he calls an "earthquake of IPOs that threaten to exacerbate an already large prosperity gap in San Francisco and around Silicon Valley.

Wednesday's worldwide strike, which also included drivers from competing companies such as Lyft and Juno, percolated to national political ether, received support from 2020 Democratic presidential candidates, including senators Kirsten Gillibrand and Cory Booker, representatives Tim Ryan and Eric Swalwell, and entrepreneur Andrew Yang. Senators Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders have previously supported the efforts of Uber drivers to earn a living salary.

In 2011, San Francisco began offering myriad tax breaks in the hope of enticing tech companies into the city. To address the consequences of so much wealth in one place, Mar suggests restoring the tax rates to their previous levels at a 1.5 percent payroll rate.

The San Francisco protest was held together with a handful of actions around the country and around the world. The scene of the San Francisco protest was significantly greater than a similar act of drivers targeting Lyft before the company's IPO in March.

On Wednesday's strike, Uber apparently attempted to stimulate both drivers and riders to cross the picking line and do business with them anyway. Drivers reported that the company offers them bonuses while some riders say they saw discount coupons lure them to hire a tour.


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