Over 200 drivers from Uber and Lyft held a rally in Silicon Valley to demand higher pay and better working conditions. The drivers, organized by Rideshare Drivers United, are fighting for a $28 per hour minimum wage, elimination of the commission that Uber and Lyft take from each fare, implementing a fair and transparent system for driver deactivations, and providing basic benefits to drivers who work over 20 hours per week. Both companies released statements defending their business models and outlining the benefits they provide to drivers, but low pay and lack of benefits continue to lead to driver turnover. In California, a new law will require companies like Uber and Lyft to classify their drivers as employees starting in January 2020.
Uber and Lyft Drivers Rally for Higher Minimum Wage in Silicon Valley
On Tuesday, October 22, 2019, over 200 drivers from Uber and Lyft held a rally in Silicon Valley to demand higher pay and better working conditions. The rally was organized by Rideshare Drivers United, a group of drivers in California who are fighting for better pay and benefits.
The Demands of the Drivers
The drivers who participated in the rally had several demands, including:
- A $28 per hour minimum wage, which would be a significant increase from the current minimum wage of $9.25 per hour in California
- Elimination of the commission that Uber and Lyft take from each fare (Uber takes a 25% commission and Lyft takes a 20-25% commission)
- Implementing a fair and transparent system for driver deactivations, which happen frequently and without warning or explanation
- Providing basic benefits, such as healthcare and sick days, to drivers who work over 20 hours per week
The Response from Uber and Lyft
Both Uber and Lyft have been under fire for their treatment of drivers, who are classified as independent contractors and are not entitled to benefits such as healthcare and workers’ compensation. In response to the rally, both companies released statements defending their business models and outlining the benefits they provide to drivers.
Lyft spokesperson Adrian Durbin stated that “Lyft has led efforts to improve driver earnings, including committing to paying drivers 100% of the fare, eliminating ‘personal power zones,’ and offering in-app tipping.” An Uber spokesperson also pointed to the company’s recent change to its surge pricing model, which now caps the amount of money the company can charge passengers during times of high demand.
The Impact on Drivers
Despite these responses from Uber and Lyft, many drivers continue to struggle to make ends meet. The current minimum wage for drivers in California is $9.25 per hour, which is below the state’s minimum wage of $12 per hour for employers with 25 or fewer employees. Drivers are also responsible for their own gas, maintenance, and insurance costs, which can add up quickly.
Low pay has led many drivers to work long hours and take on multiple jobs just to make ends meet. This has also led to a high turnover rate among drivers, which can be costly for Uber and Lyft as they have to continually recruit and train new drivers.
The Future for Drivers
The rally in Silicon Valley is just one of many efforts by drivers across the country to demand better pay and benefits. In New York City, the Taxi Workers Alliance has lobbied for a $15 per hour minimum wage for drivers. In California, Assembly Bill 5, which was recently signed into law, will require companies like Uber and Lyft to classify their drivers as employees starting in January 2020.
While these efforts are a step in the right direction, there is still much work to be done to ensure that drivers are being treated fairly and compensated appropriately. As the gig economy continues to grow, it is important that companies like Uber and Lyft take responsibility for the wellbeing of their workers.
Q: Are all Uber and Lyft drivers paid the same wage?
A: No, drivers are paid based on the number of rides they give and the time and distance of each ride. They are not guaranteed a minimum wage.
Q: How many hours a day do Uber and Lyft drivers typically work?
A: This varies depending on the driver, but many drivers work long hours in order to make a decent income. Some drivers work up to 12 hours per day, while others work only a few hours a week.
Q: Will the new California law requiring companies to classify their workers as employees affect Uber and Lyft drivers?
A: Yes, starting in January 2020, Uber and Lyft drivers in California will be classified as employees and will be entitled to benefits such as healthcare and workers’ compensation.