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Uber and Lyft drivers in NYC plan short work stoppage for May 8

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Ahead of Uber’s IPO, New York City drivers will turn off their apps for two hours in the morning

Via Spencer Pratt/Getty Images

Uber and Lyft drivers have voted to go on a brief strike on May 8, following the lead of drivers in other major cities, including Philadelphia, Chicago, and Washington D.C., the New York City Taxi Workers Alliance (NYTWA) announced in a statement on Friday.

According to NYTWA, drivers will turn off their apps on Wednesday from 7 to 9 a.m. and will meet that afternoon for a rally at the Falchi Building, where both companies have driver hubs, in Long Island City.

On the eve of Uber’s IPO, drivers will be asking the company’s leadership to provide job security by ending “unfair [app] deactivations”; livable incomes by eliminating “the scam of upfront pricing”; and regulating the fare by guaranteeing 80 to 85 percent of the fare goes to drivers. (Lyft went public earlier this year.)

Last year, the New York City Council passed legislation enacting a minimum wage of around $17/hour for drivers of ride-hailing apps, which went into effect in February. As The Verge reported, “the pay formula uses a so-called utilization rate, which accounts for the share of time a driver spends with passengers in their vehicles compared to time spent idle and waiting for a fare.” (Lyft has unsuccessfully challenged the wage increase in court.) Prior to the wage increase, drivers were making around $12/hour after expenses.

“The TLC [NYC Taxi and Limousine Commission] passed a new minimum pay standard that will help drivers take home almost $10,000 more a year,” TLC acting commissioner Bill Heinzen said in a statement. “This pay standard was upheld by a court this week, despite challenges by the app companies.”

“The de Blasio administration, working with Council, put a one-year cap on the number of [for-hire vehicles], which had flooded our streets with thousands of new cars each month,” Heinzen added. “There is still much work ahead, and the TLC is fully committed to helping all drivers.”

But representatives for taxi and ride-hailing service drivers say that’s not enough. “Wall Street investors are telling Uber and Lyft to cut down on driver income, stop incentives, and go faster to Driverless Cars,” NYTWA executive director Bhairavi Desai said in a statement. “Uber and Lyft wrote in their S1 filings that they think they pay drivers too much already.”

“We want Uber to answer to us, not to investors,” Sonam Lama, Uber driver and NYTWA member, added. “The gig economy is all about exploiting workers by taking away our rights.”