Special Report: Live at the Uber and Lyft Strike in Los Angeles

Back on My 8th, I attended a major strike by Uber and Lyft drivers. It was organized by Rideshare Drivers united here in Los Angeles. They were the ones who did the first big strike after Uber cut the per mile rate in Los Angeles by 25% that was the catalyst for the first strike a couple months ago. And they planned this big one for the week leading up to Uber’s IPO and a bunch of other organizations around the country.

Take a look at the video I took at the strike below, and scroll to the transcript if you’d like to read what’s covered in the video.

My experience at the Uber & Lyft strike

I think there’s eight or 10 cities that are going on strike and actually cities all across the world. I saw some initial footage from New York City, the strike that the IDG organized, it looks like there’s a pretty good turnout, at least a couple hundred drivers out there, kind of in support. I’m going to head over to LAX right now. They’ve got a rally happening at noon, so I know some picketers are kind of in the terminals in the departure area, but I’m going to go head over to this noon rally and kind of see what it’s like. So let’s, let’s take a look.

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Harry Campbell: I’m here at the protest, and probably about 100 200 drivers are coming in and out of the area. There’s a bunch of media and a bunch of press. I talked to a couple of drivers here who went to the other events and it sounds like there were more drivers at the first protest. But there are definitely a lot of passionate speeches around drivers from the organizers and just supporters in general.

As you can see behind me, airplanes are flying by and it’s a little loud. They’ve been shuttling drivers in, I think they have a free parking lot. But to be honest, I just parked right here on the side of the street.

Supporter: Automation should enhance the ability for workers to do their jobs, not displace them. See what’s actually happening is that the companies like Uber are investing in technologies to eliminate drivers.

Supporter 2: How are you operating at a loss when some of your drivers are earning $3 and the rider is paying $41? You’re not operating at a loss, you’re operating out of greed! You’re taking our hard-earned money to invest in a technology that will effectively replace approximately 6 million jobs roles.

Supporter 3: And when you think about the incentives. They want you to drive 80 trips, 100 trips, 120 trips. Who driving part time can reach those full-time goals?

Interviewer: Now it’s funny when you talk about the quest because years ago there was a quest and if you did 200 rides you would get a bonus. You know how much it was? $2,000!

My take on the issues covered at the strike

The rally is kind of fitting out right now. This is 24 hour protest here in Los Angeles. I know some other cities might have been a couple of hours. Here in Los Angeles, that rideshare drivers united, they asked drivers to turn the app off from midnight to midnight, so 24 hours and they’ve actually been picketing all day, over in the departures terminal at LAX. So it sounds like they’re about a hundred drivers over there.

Earlier from one of the reports that I heard and a lot of them kind of went after this rally was over, went to go do some more picketing. So, you know, kind of my overall thoughts and impressions. I talked to some drivers, a lot of drivers actually didn’t talk to too many of the organizers since they kind of were busy, you know, talking to media, real media, not me.

I didn’t want to bug them, but definitely, you know, the, the drivers that were there kind of in support. I think, some of them were kind of full time. Some of them were more in the part time to full time category. But definitely a lot of veterans and a lot of people who’ve been doing this for awhile and sort of seeing a lot of the supporters I think where people that have kind of over the years seen that Uber and Lyft have cut rates and maybe they’ve seen multiple cuts and the commissions have gone up and all that. So that was definitely one of the common themes. I asked a lot of drivers what they thought they should be paid and a lot of them pointed to just raising the per mile rate.

How can we learn from NYC?

And in New York City for example, they obviously increased the minimum hourly wage, which I think is a better solution since it sort of forces Uber and Lyft, not to oversaturate the market with tons of drivers. Definitely a good amount of press, they’re covering the event and talking to drivers. It’s going to make for some good sound bites for sure. And it will be beneficial to the cause that these drivers are striking for.

And you know, for the most part pretty well organized have to give Kudos to the organizers, Rideshare Drivers United. They had flyers and techs going out and shuttles running. It does seem like some of the drivers, like I parked right here outside of the park. And so some of them they told me they were waiting for 15, 30 minutes, maybe 75 to 100 drivers a warrant actually there until the very end.

I was impressed by the organization and passion

Like any big organizing thing, there’s a couple of small challenges. The planes were pretty loud at times, but I think that they definitely got their message across and I was definitely impressed at how passionate a lot of the stories were. and you know, kind of a support that it wasn’t just drivers there. There are also some organizers from some other unions and labor groups and things like that.

We’ll definitely keep an eye on how things go in other cities. And I’m curious to know what you guys think of the strike and whether you think it was a success or not. Leave a comment down below. I know that’s one criticism I’ve seen from other people like, what’s a one day or even a two hour strike and to do. And I don’t think that’s necessarily the goal of this strike.

Was this strike a success?

Uber is not going to see these drivers strike and say, Oh, we should go raise our per mile rate. But I do think that if politicians and regulators start to look at this and say, Hey, what regulation is working, like in New York City where they did the minimum hourly wage. you know, to me that seems like, you know, they’re more realistic goal of them forcing Uber and Lyft to raise rates.

I will say that some drivers did point out to me that in LA Lyft actually has not cut rates, not yet at least to match Uber. So Uber dropped the per mile and per minute or you know, increase the per minute per drop the per mile rate by 25% but Lyft hasn’t.

I talked to several drivers who are driving for Lyft only right now or trying to reduce the hours that they do a on Uber. So it was interesting because this is technically I guess an Uber or Lyft strike, but some drivers that I was talking to seem like, hey, they’re okay with driving for Lyft but just don’t want to do Uber.

And then the other big thing that I’ll end on is that some drivers that I was talking to told me that they don’t want to be employees. And so I think that’s one thing that the organizers need to just sort of make super clear of the messaging cause I didn’t see that in their messaging that they actually want to become employees. It seemed like they were asking more for fair pay, higher per mile rate, lower commissions. I did see some stuff about benefits, but I didn’t see anywhere that they were asking drivers to become employees or that’s what they were fighting for.

And I think that one of the best ways to get full time drivers and part time drivers united is to fight for this stuff that we all care about. And that’s going to be higher pay, whether it’s per mile or a minimum hourly wage lowering commission, and having a voice at the table. No one wants to be deactivated by Uber or Lyft and not have any way to challenge it. Those are things that, whether you’re a full time or part time driver, you can probably all agree on. If you guys do have any questions, comments, or concerns, don’t hesitate to leave a comment below and I’ll do my best to answer. All right, signing off. Take care!


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