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Uber and Lyft drivers strike nationwide for better pay


App-based drivers across the country are on strike Wednesday, demanding better working conditions, better wages and legal protections, according to lobby group Rideshare Drivers United.

The California-based organization called on drivers and drivers across the country to boycott services like Uber and Lyft for 24 hours on Wednesday. Gatherings are also planned in 11 different cities across the country. The group is calling for better pay, the right to organize and legislation to protect their classification status.

“Application-based workers are tired of exploiting big tech companies,” said Eve Aruguete, organizer and driver of Rideshare Drivers United, in a statement. “Misclassification is like concrete, keeping us underground.”

The driver-led group said many of their problems are a direct result of Proposition 22 – California ballot measurement adopted in 2020 which classifies application-based drivers as independent contractors rather than employees eligible for employment benefits and protection. While supporters of the measure say it gives drivers flexibility in their schedules and keeps customers affordable, Rideshare Drivers United says app-based companies have broken their promises to the measure and wasted more. $ 220 million to promote it.

“They promised us more flexibility, more control and more transparency,” said driver Carlos Pelayo. “But since the adoption of Prop 22, I have less control over where I drive, who I get and how much I earn. Prop 22 was the most expensive lie ever told to voters in California.”

Protesters also claim that app-based ridesharing companies have cut mileage rates, cut commissions and manipulated algorithms to exploit workers.

It’s unclear how many are participating in the strike and boycott, but an Uber representative told CBS News he hasn’t seen an impact on the service.

Last year, Uber claimed that drivers in cities like Denver and Washington, DC, earn $ 55,000 a year, although several independent studies disputed the figure. Economist Larry Mishel called the estimate “false nonsense”, saying it ignored out-of-pocket expenses such as gasoline and vehicle maintenance.

A study by the University of California, Santa Cruz estimated that 20% of carpooling workers in San Francisco lose money when total expenses are counted. The report also found that since the pandemic, more than half of all app-based drivers have lost 75-100% of their earnings.

A Lyft spokesperson backed the company’s current pay transparency protocols, saying drivers receive weekly pay slips that detail their earnings, driver totals and deductions.

“Drivers are busier now than they were even before the pandemic began,” a company spokesperson told CBS News. “In our core markets, drivers earn over $ 30 an hour, which is significantly higher than before COVID. Lyft is also fighting to extend driver benefits and protections in a way that allows them to maintain their independence. This is the type of breakthrough. The approach sought by our drivers. “

Boycotters on Wednesday said the Right to Organize Protection Act (PRO) would help address some of their equality concerns at work. The law passed by the House would help workers organize, allow collective bargaining over working conditions and pay, expand joint employer responsibility, and change the designations of those considered employees.

“We have to have our say,” said carpooler Esterphanie St. Juste. “There is no one who represents us apart from Lyft and Uber.”

The Senate is due to hold a hearing on the PRO law on Thursday. Legislation is not expected to advance in the Senate due to a lack of Republican support.

In response to the PRO Act, an Uber representative told CBS News they were working alongside Congress to “advance policies that improve self-employment, rather than eliminate it.”

“We will continue to work with Congress and our diverse community of employees on meaningful solutions to improve the quality and safety of self-employment,” said the spokesperson.

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