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Your Uber Is Not Here: Drivers Strike, Rally Nationwide Ahead Of IPO

A smartphone is mounted on the glass of an Uber car. (Rafiq Maqbool/AP)
A smartphone is mounted on the glass of an Uber car. (Rafiq Maqbool/AP)

Find our buildout from this hour, featuring a conversation with one striking Uber driver, here.

With Meghna Chakrabarti

Uber’s IPO is about to hit the market. Ride-hail drivers head out on strike for better wages and working conditions. We look at the gig economy now.


Rebecca Stack-Martinez, Uber driver who is helping to organize protest efforts in San Francisco. (@GigWorkersRise)

Johana Bhuiyan, business reporter at the Los Angeles Times covering the technology industry with a focus on accountability. (@JMBooyah)

Sharon Block, executive director of the Labor and Worklife Program at Harvard Law School, which is Harvard’s forum for research and teaching on the world of work and its implications for society. Former principal deputy assistant secretary for policy at the U.S. Department of Labor and senior counselor to the Secretary of Labor. (@sharblock)

Statement From Uber Spokesperson

“Drivers are at the heart of our service─we can’t succeed without them─and thousands of people come into work at Uber every day focused on how to make their experience better, on and off the road. Whether it’s more consistent earningsstronger insurance protectionsorfully-funded four-year degreesfor drivers or their families, we’ll continue working to improve the experiencefor andwithdrivers.”

Statement From Lyft

“Lyft drivers’ hourly earnings have increased 7% over the last two years, and they have earned more than $14B on the Lyft platform. Over 75 percent drive less than 10 hours a week to supplement existing jobs. On average, Lyft drivers earn over $20 per hour. We know that access to flexible, extra income makes a big difference for millions of people, and we’re constantly working to improve how we can best serve our driver community.”

From The Reading List

Los Angeles Times: “Uber Drivers plan strike ahead of much-anticipated IPO” — “It was a protest that dealt Uber its biggest blow. When taxi drivers in New York City rallied against President Trump’s travel ban in 2017, Uber became a scapegoat for continuing to operate — leading hundreds of thousands of riders to delete the app as a result.

“On Wednesday, just days before Uber is expected to begin trading in one of the tech world’s most-anticipated initial public offerings, the company must again contend with a protest.

“This time, Uber drivers in at least 10 cities across the country plan to stage a 24-hour strike over what they describe as unfair pay and a lack of transparency. But unlike the viral social media outrage surrounding the #deleteUber campaign two years ago, the biggest risk to Uber isn’t that customers take notice.

“It’s that legislators take heed.”

Money: “Uber and Lyft Drivers Are Striking This Week. Here’s Their List of Demands — and Where to Expect the Most Disruption in Service” — “Drivers for Uber and Lyft plan to strike in a number of major U.S. cities this week to demand better wages and working conditions ahead of Uber’s highly anticipated initial public offering.

“The work stoppages and rallies will take place in cities from Los Angeles to Boston, as well as locations in the United Kingdom, as Uber seeks an expected $91 billion valuation this week.

“The protests — which vary in size and scope, depending on their location — focus on the same goal: better wages, better benefits, a voice in policy decisions, and basic workplace protections for drivers, who are deemed independent contractors rather than employees under both Uber’s and Lyft’s business models. Drivers in Los Angeles, San Diego, and Boston will stage 24-hour long strikes from their ride-sharing apps, those in Atlanta and San Francisco will strike for 12 hours, and New York City-based drivers will strike for two hours during morning rush hour. Groups of drivers in Chicago, Philadelphia, and Washington, D.C., among other cities, will hold rallies in solidarity with drivers around the country.”

New York Times: “Uber, Losing $1.8 Billion a Year, Reveals I.P.O. Filing” — “Uber, the ride-hailing service that has upended transportation around the world, took a major step toward the largest initial public offering in years when it officially unveiled its finances in a prospectus on Thursday.

“The offering, which could value Uber at around $100 billion, is expected to reverberate through global financial markets and to solidify the company’s position as one of the most consequential technology firms of the past decade. The share sale would be the biggest since the Alibaba Group of China began trading on the New York Stock Exchange in 2014, and would peg Uber’s value at more than four times that of United Airlines’ parent and double that of FedEx.

“But the prospectus renewed questions about how sustainable Uber’s business actually is. The company said in the filing that it lost $1.8 billion in 2018, excluding certain transactions, on revenue of $11.3 billion. And the prospectus also showed that its rocket-ship trajectory for revenue growth was beginning to slow.

“Uber’s archrival in North America, Lyft, went public last month at a valuation of $24 billion. But Lyft, which is also deeply unprofitable, fell below its offering price in its second day of trading as investors questioned whether it could make money. This week, Pinterest, the digital pin board company that also is losing money, set a price range for its public offering that values it below that of its last private market peg.”

Allison Pohle produced this show for broadcast.

This article was originally published on WBUR.org.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.