Uber, Lyft strike organizers speak to press

Channel: Fox Business
Published: 05/08/2019

NY Taxi Workers Alliance Executive Director Bhairavi Desai and a group of App driver strike organizers holds a media availability. Drivers for Uber and Lyft held a strike this morning to protest low wages and working conditions. FOX Business Network (FBN) is a financial news channel delivering ...

Okay, well, thank you. Everybody no strike in new york city is at a pause, but our strike nationwide and across the globe continues. We want to say congratulations and thank you to all of the strikers. Today. Today is a historic day. Had it been just new york city uber drivers on strike, it still would have been historic. The idea that this strike has spread like wildfire across the globe within j ...
st a short number of days is something that would have been unimaginable for us, but it really goes to show you the urgency of this fight and it's the death of driver unity and the Visceral sense of rage that uber is lyft drivers arefeeling across the globe. We chose me aim because everybody knows buber is expected to announce its ipo this week, they're looking for evaluation of 90 to 100 billion dollars. Meanwhile, drivers are barely making a minimum wage and, in their free ipo filing uber, has said repeatedly that drivers should expect to be dissatisfied because they will be cutting down on incentives and driver k. It'S unacceptable. They'Ve also said that they're going to go more quickly into driverless cars five years ago. They look to flood the streets with cars and drivers so that they can monopolize today on the eve of their ipo, as they wait for investor money.

They'Re looking to go as fast as possibleinto driverless cars say men and women who built them their fortune. They can't wait. You know they can't get fast enough to replace them. That'S why we went out on strike today. The strike call was initially made by drivers in los angeles, our sister organizations. Since then, it has spread across the globe in new york city, the members of the taxi workers alliance. We have over 21,000 members in new york city across across all the sectors out of which over 10,000 of them drive just for the out cars. We took the vote to go out on this strike, both as an act of solidarity with our brothers and sisters, a prosperous country and across theglobe, but also to demand that uber and lyft drivers should be guaranteed 80 to 85 percent of the fare up until 2017. Drivers were paid a percentage of the fare and then just as uber and lyft started to raise the fares on the passengers. They cut the drivers out of it and instead, drivers were paid at a metered rate of distance and time and that great has been frozen. So, while these companies taking more money from passengers, none of it trickles down to the drivers on top of that, if you are a new york city driver and you get in there outside of years right now, your pain rates, however connecticut new jersey and you'recoming down And they dispatch affair to you, you're then paid at the rates of those cities and states. Even though you're a new york city driver you're not being paid, i didn't hear any rate for all of your jobs and then there's a major issue of deactivation.

Our drivers, our deactivation, is the fancy silicon valley term from maine fire deactivations happen for drivers without any kind of notice. It happened overnight without any kind of clause, and no no, no appeal, so you lose your job overnight. You you go without income, but on top of that pay for all the vehicle expenses expenses for a vehicle that you purchased in order to go to work, withthese companies from it from their inception. These companies have treated drivers as if they are expendable that they can be discarded in while they're looking to permanently do that to workers once they go into driverless cars. Make no mistake that thread all these years. They have treated drivers as if they're, expendable and drivers across the globe are sick and tired of it, they're, sick and tired of it. I want to tell you that this morning we were active, different bridge crossings and usually during those hours. All every third card is a black card and you look on the back and you see what we called the tc plate. So the plate number starts with theletter g and it ends with the letter c. Those are the cars that are regulated by the taxi and limousine commission, while not all of them worked for the app companies, a significant number of them do we had fun, we had people on all the highways you know on the brecker in the bronze were usually The highways are bumper-to-bumper literacy plate cars. We saw that mostly it was private cars and trucks on the roads today, 59 bridge it off the brooklyn bridge for mostly private cars and trucks. We saw very few tc plate cars, but some of us were off again.

Please knightsbridge what we found with many drivers, the ones who did have flatcars told us they were operating either car services or traditional black cards. There is no doubt this strike has been a triumphant success. I'M gon na turn this over to some of our strikers of the day, and i think, as most of you know, we have a strikers rally this afternoon at 1:00 p. m. so that's actually, our main gathering of all of the drivers. We didn't do it early in the mornings, because people are not working. That'S the point of the strife. If you've got your cars to be hard to find parking places and so [ music ], we strike in the morning our rally this afternoon. The rally this afternoon will be of drivers across all ofthe sectors. It'S really wanted to have this press conference right now to be able to respond to you as to what we have seen about the effectiveness of the strike you know and how we, as organizers, are able to observe them. I can tell you, while the numbers will only come in over the next set of days. For example, we saw a lot of red zones, you know within where the streets were just empty.

There weren't enough cars, because the algorithm went to work and algorithm saw there. Weren'T enough cars to pick up the dispatches. We also want to say that across social media we saw so many members of the public that have beenstanding in support and solidarity members of the public riders who also today, you know, refused to cross our stripe line and they also logged off the apps from 7:00. To 9:00 a. m. on twitter they're like create different hashtags regarding the stripe, we know in england where our brothers and sisters have to find a national strike. Even on the day, when you know the royal baby is comes out to greet the world, it was the bluebird drivers. Trying, though, we see the effect of this strike, we've seen so much excitement from the drivers, but from the public who has stood up with us, and so we also want to say we also want to say thankyou. That'S it our strike line and have stood in solidarity with us so now i'd like to turn it over to one of the strikers of the day and also one of the organizers of this strike beta v design bh8. I are a bi desai, diaz, david e-s-a. I i'm the executive director of the new york taxi workers alliance, the organization that proudly organized this historic strike of app drivers and city hi. My name is linda, i nder last name is paulo.

He poor driver since 2013 and i'm a full-time uber driver and i worked 70 to 80 hours a week and who were still can't be a part-time driver. I have no idea whereto turn at the law or 40 hours for 18 hours, and i feel, like you were, is like an exploitation right now. What google is doing, the access their exploitation? I got the proof i used to make thirty seven dollars an hour. Okay, and today i make about $ 9 80 cents an hour, that's how much exploitation will put it any. One of you want a picture of a piece of coffee i'll, give it to you. Anybody who buys an ipo right now, but the government does it. It'S an exploitation of them: three million privates all over the country. We would have three million, so the exploitation and the legal slavery and google is getting awaywith. This thing that we are independent contractors exploiting three million last year, ninth, i was committed suicide, only new york. I have no idea how many did all over the country, but i think so hundreds are more. Drivers will commit suicide. If we let / what the thank you.

No, i will not buy an idea. This is not slavery. This is a slavery. I will not support the slavery company, a company whose slave 3 million drive. When you call this $ 9 an hour. I have to still pay for my gasoline. I have to pay for my car. I have to pay for my instrument. Then i have to feed my family. I used tomake $ 37. Anybody wants a copy i'll, give you the top. I made $ 37.

Now i make. I can't buy the field most part in open market i've been driving since 2013 shut. My mouth they gave me $ 500 because i'm a good driver well $ 500 for $ 10 an hour. Does it be a? How many of you will work for $ 10 in the park that you have to buy? The car you have to buy the install is you have to win three in the car. Then you have to find the gasoline and i still have to take out the coals or the blind you're. Not who are you hiding behind that common, independent folders? They hidebehind? That'S why they will give me a dollar now still, if you were in the navy department, the government of the united states to get involved in this thing, [ music, ], the worst experience i haven't, left i've been driving since 2006. Okay with this money i could not survive. I have three kids. All three finish their college. One is working for td bank, one is my daughter, is working for standard motor parts, and my son is a software engineer and that's how they are helping me. I'M surviving plus i got a one nice job, nice lady. I drive her about 40 hours a week.

She pays me very very well. That'S how i'm surviving if ido not have that lady to pay me for forty hours, i will be starving. I will be not be able to pay any of my bills at this $ 9 an hour in 2004, 13. 14. 15. I made $ 37, then they start dropping the prices. Now i make $ 10 an hour. Anybody wants a copy i'll give you the copy. I have the copies in my pocket yeah. My name is inder ind er. Last name is farmer p ar m ar pp as a peter p ar and okay. i.

When i was independent contract with the taxi companies with the limousine companies, they usually give me a job in advance. They tell me tomorrow morning i got 8a. m. 10 a. m. 12 a. m. to 8 p. m. but with goober when i eat food. I have to keep my phone in front of me. When i go to bathroom, i got ta go phone with my one hand.

This way, i do not miss a job. I cannot sleep in my car. I cannot take anything without loki keeping an eye on that screen when i'm going to call for 12 hours, but i make only 10 dollars an hour and my expenses, i literally go home with $ 0. I have to look for because my investment is sixty thousand dollars in a car, then another six thousand dollars in my insurance and another $ 1,200 on the registration ofmy car plus my hack license, plus my tlc. My investment is also seventy thousand dollars. I cannot walk away with the 70 70 thousand dollars worth of investment. The question about labor employment status, so in new york state, the only employee like benefit that uber drivers have is actually for unemployment. Three of our members filed unemployment claims with the department of labor. One of them was found to be unemployed because, after after his expenses were deducted, he was left in some weeks earning less than a penny in earnings. So he was effectively found to be unemployed, even though they had never deactivated him because he was earning only poverty wages. Well, when our arm metthree of our members filed for that unemployment and one of them for 10 months, never got an answer, then the department of labor told him that his case and the case of every uber driver was under executive review, not by the department of Labor, which we took to mean it was under executive review by the governor, and so we sued the governor in federal court to require the department of labor to investigate these. And once the claims were independently investigated by the labor department, the drivers were found to be employees.

The judge made a ruling, the in uber appealed it. There was a trial and there was an appeal and again uber lost, so theactual decision of the new york state department of labor is that, at least for the purposes of unemployment, the drivers are considered employees. The thing is when, when a company claims you are an independent contractor, you have to go piecemeal by piecemeal to win each of your benefits so for unemployment, minimum wage overtime. You know social security contribution. All of these. You have to fight for one by one and in order to fight for it, you have to document that it's something that you have suffered, and so you already suffer the punishment. You know, and it's really hard for workers to stay home. But the thing that i want to point out, in particular asfar as today is concerned, is in ubers pre ipo filing. They talked about drivers as a liability, not the ones that built them their empires, but as a liability that, because they have to share the revenue from the fair with the drivers, they see that as a liability to their ability to make a profit. They also say that giving drivers basic employment protections would would overturn their business. We have seen like after lips ipo we've seen from you know various analyst who talked about that in order for these who have advised these companies to basically cut down on the number of drivers, cut down on driver pay and go as quickly as possible into driverlesscars, Because from the get-go you know, travis kalanick, the founder of uber, we had a very famous quote where he said. The only problem he has is.

He has to share some money with the dude in the front seat from day one. They have seen drivers as expendable and as liabilities and now that they're getting closer to the ipo, we think they're beginning to start to shed the number of drivers. So you getting you get deactivated overnight without any notice without any just cause. Meanwhile, you who's gon na pay for the car that you bought in order to go to work for them. It'S not acceptable. It'S not acceptable for workers to be treated this waywhile, particularly while these companies try to get valuated as ahead 100 billion dollars. Yeah. Yes, absolutely so in terms of employment protections, those could only come at the state or federal level, but at the local level we, the city council, could heed the call of our strike. Today they can take action on the deactivations. The city council could pass legislation to give drivers the right for just cause in order to be terminated where drivers would have a right for notice and appeal and cause so they're not just fired overnight and left penniless and in debt. The taxi limousine commission could. Let could regulate that the app companies that the minimum fare could be the sameacross this entire industry and that the app companies must pay eighty to eighty-five percent of that fare to the driver.

We know that there is interest in this taxi limousine commission to do that, but we also know that you know, while we fight publicly behind the scenes in uber and lyft will be lobbying against those efforts, and so we don't want to wait. For that day, we held this strike today to send a message to these companies that we're not afraid of fighting them and confronting them directly. The tuck. Last summer, the city council established a law that where these companies were classified as high-frequency vehicles, and so it's the app companies all of themqualify right now, the dlc right now does have the right to certain legislation and regulation over them. But you know we like. We look, we all know the game. You know workers go up in front of regulators. We push for protections, the companies use their lobbyists to push back in 2016, uber and lyft spent more on lobbyists than amazon, walmart and microsoft combined. That'S according to a report by the national employment law project, and so we're here to say that we're not going to just depend on the goodwill of regulators, we're sending a message directly to these companies that we will take you on by strikes and work stoppages. In order to stop your lobbyingto undermine the rights of the drivers, we need so we expected, like over 10 thousand drivers to participate. We won't know the exact number, but i do have to say from all the outreach that we had done. We believe the number was actually much higher than 10,000 new york city.

I mean there, of course, are always gon na be reports. You know um of that nature, but from what we saw from our observations on the street as well as, if you, this is from uber itself during our strike time. So these tell you that tell there is no driver on the street. 2. 2 starts to engage those 2. 2. That means in a short vid you eitherbe, jus, hider vig. You h a idea either. That means there is no drivers they are put in search. You know if you pay $ 45, this is going to be like 120 $ 150 driver will get, but probably the charged parts passenger 200 to $ 300. You know the so-called upfront pricing, wouldn't this is business district main happen. So this is tell you the tell how how how successful is the strike and no? No not during that strike time.

Anyone can. I can. Did this tell you the tale. There is no driver on the street, the business district in manhattan. He knows sarge is on as much as 2. 2. It'S very rare. It'S probably last time. Toa point to is that during the 31st night you know 31st december 822. 822 m. Do you mean if you pay regular fare $ 10? You have to pay $ 22. I just want to say that uber across the country uber across the country had been promising passengers that the rates would actually be lowered.

Uber saw on social media that many members of the public were saying that they will not cross the strike line and so uber had been sending out messages. You can find them all over twitter, where passengers in in support of us two extreme shots where uber and lyft sent the messages saying that the rides would be cheaper. Today they were trying tolure the public. On the other hand, they were telling drivers that the that they would pay the drivers an incentive of 2. 2 times more than what the driver normally gets paid and that is, after months of uber no longer giving incentives to drivers. They have stopped incentives for a while. Now, okay, they brought them back up today at the time of the strike, because there were not enough drivers doing the work and if passengers say well, if for any passenger, who might think that if their ride appeared cheap. That means that that the drivers were still on the road they're mistaken, because uber had already publicized that they were going to make the rides evencheaper today in order to attract more passengers. I i mean this strike is just the beginning. You know we feel really triumphant. We we announced, we publicly announced our strike just five days ago. We know that tens of thousands of drivers went out on strike today.

Striking is the hardest thing that workers do, but it's the most powerful and it's the most thrilling it's when you really feel your power, and i assure you, every driver was checking their app and the drivers would have seen the searchers and they would have seen the Red spot and drivers would have known that our unity held and the strike held strong there. We, i think, there's gon na bea number of strikes that are going to be continuing today. We'Re focused on the global strikes of today, but uber and lyft should take notice, because we were able to do this in new york city in their biggest market in five days of public notice, and we know we're just getting started. [ music ], the independent drivers guild, has a private contract with uber they get. They are paid by uber in that private contract, which was announced around 2016. They admitted and like their coverage of this, elect the new york times where they admitted that they agreed to not strike against uber and to not file labor violations against uber. They are not independent of uber theyare, a jam company union which goes against every single principle that people like us believe in because we're supposed to be working for the interests of the workers, we're not supposed to be taking money from the bosses. And so we know that idg has done its best to create confusion. It may have done so with some of the media, but i assure you it could not create confusion among the drivers. The drivers have held strong and our unity could not be divided or disrupted. The minimum the minimum pay rules were just to start. You know it took a long fight to win them, but we've always said that they were just a start.

We don'twant a minimum wage to become the the ceiling. Minimum wage should be the floor. It should not become the ceiling, it cannot be the maximum of what drivers earn. It should only be the minimum of what drivers earn. The only way for drivers to earn more is if they continue to get a percentage of the fare. So, as the fare revenue goes up, the drivers share of that revenue can also go up sure. Yes, the demands of our new york city strike. So, as you know, the number of cities were striking across the country and across the globe in new york city. Our demands are that we want a return to a regulated commission systemwhere. The commission is capped, and so drivers are entitled to 80 to 85 percent of the fare. We want an end to upfront pricing. Upfront pricing is where uber charges a base, a quote: a rate of fare to the public, and then the driver is paid at distance and time on the meter at a different rate than what the public pays.

What we have found is that, on that, once uber separated driver pay from what the passenger pay is that uber started to take a higher share of that fare it used years when uber started, they were taking 10 % commission okay. In 2014, it was 10 %. Commission by 2017 it was 25 % commission under upfrontpricing. We have seen commission on certain fares as high as 40 % 50 %. That'S how little of the fare the drivers were getting, even though the drivers have to pay for the vehicle, the insurance, the gasoline, the maintenance, the repairs, all the major expenses related to this job. So our demands for today are weat. Drivers should have a guarantee of 80 to 85 percent of the fare, no more up front pricing where drivers are cut out of the fare revenue, and we want an end to deactivations without any notice or just cause. Drivers should have a right to receive a notice and to appeal any type of a firing. Also, new york city drivers should bepaid at the new york city rate when they do a job for uber outside of new york city, just because you're dropping off the fare in new jersey and they dispatch a trip to you if they pay you at a lower Rate that they charge in new jersey that they pay the driver in new jersey, you have a cost of living in new york to pay, for you can't afford to be paid at those lower rates, and so those are the main demands in new york city. Right now sure i'm beta v desai be h: ai r avi desai de sá. I i'm the executive director of the new york taxi workers alliance. I alsojust want to add that one of the other fundamental demand of our strike is.

We want to see an end to the poverty that drivers are facing across the ober economy. You know our brothers and sisters in other cities and countries. A jp morgan chase report recently found that drivers in 2017 earned half of what they had earned in 2013. A fiscal policy institute report found that in over 40 states across the country, drivers were not earning at the minimum wage of that state. In new york city, the taxi and limousine commission had found that 85 % of drivers had been earning below minimum wage. The poverty in debt is across this economy and in theiripo filing uber has said explicitly. Drivers should expect to be increasingly dissatisfied because the pay rates will only get lower and that's one of the main reasons that we're out on strike today itself on may 8th on the eve of their ipo, see everybody at one o'clock in long island city. That'S the rally of the strikers: that's the only rally of the strikers today, long island city at 1:00 p. m.

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