Last month, New York City Uber and Lyft drivers staged a 12-hour strike at LaGuardia Airport, calling once again for a pay raise, as they picketed at the airport and refused pickups from the busy transit hub. It is their third strike in recent months, as drivers demand higher pay due to skyrocketing inflation and living costs.
In New York, many Uber and Lyft drivers are former taxi drivers, but these apps forced them to quit being taxi drivers and rely on the low wages from this new technology. And now Uber and Lyft drivers make less in fares and tips than they did as taxi drivers. The companies know what they’re doing — squeezing every penny out of the workers. Recently, Uber went to court to block an order to raise drivers’ pay to keep up with inflation by the Taxi and Limousine Commission in the state of New York, an agency that regulates taxis and taxi-like services.
In response, Uber and Lyft drivers held three one-day strikes in protest. As one driver said at a rally in front of Uber’s Manhattan Office, “Does the money make us? Or do we make the money?” The strike showed the answer — that without drivers, there are no fares.
Following the third strike, New York City regulators decided to pass a 9% raise for these workers. For a trip of 7.5 miles and 30 minutes, the new rates will require a minimum payment of $26.76 for drivers, for example. That is an increase of $2.16, or about 9% over rates last year. Of course Uber representatives threatened they would simply pass the increase onto riders. But if that was so easy, they wouldn’t have opposed these raises so vigorously to begin with. Plus, they have already been raising rates without giving drivers any raises anyway.
For years, many have said it is too difficult for ride-share drivers to organize and win because there are too many of them, they are too spread out, and it is just too difficult to link together. But these Uber and Lyft drivers have shown how workers can organize to overcome many obstacles … because the money doesn’t make us, but we make the money!