Uber, Lyft Drivers Strike Over Pay and Right to Unionize

Rallies were held across the country hoping to get congress to pass legislation.

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Uber and Lyft drivers across the country, including here in San Diego, staged a one-day strike Wednesday voicing their frustrations over working conditions and what they consider dwindling pay.

While it may not have looked like a strike at the airport, with drivers still picking up passengers, one driver who only identified himself as Moses said he was taking a stand after nearly eight years of driving for the companies.

Moses showed up at the airport waiting lot to support his fellow drivers and didn't take any rides for the day.

“Before it was a great job. You make over $1,000 a week no problem. Now for you to make $1,000 you have to do 80, 90, 100 hours a week," Moses said.

That’s why he decided to take part in the one-day strike.

Across town at Lyft’s driver center off Morena Boulevard, you could hear chants of “When do we want it. Now! PRO ACT, yes!”

It was was just one of many rallies across the state and country to put pressure on legislators to pass Protect the Right to Organize Act, a bill that would allow contractors to unionize if they choose.

"I think it’s stupid! When I took on this, it was for the freedom of turning it on and off when I want. Most people know it’s to make supplemental income, it's not to make a living. I mean you can. I believe in the freedom to choose,” explained driver Maunuel Romo.

Driver Justin Castro said he wants to see the companies fairly compensate their drivers and stop charging higher fares riders are complaining about, but he doesn’t know if unionizing is the answer.

“I don’t know. I go back and forth. I was in a union that did nothing for me," he said.

But there are other drivers like Wahid Qadiri who say unionizing may help, “so they can hear us by one voice.”

Qadiri and Moses are wondering if unionizing will give them more power over their pay, which they say has continued to decrease despite rideshare companies charging passengers more.

All of this comes after California voters approved Proposition 22 in November. It was bankrolled by the rideshare companies and allows them to avoid classifying drivers as employees.

"Uber was telling everyone what they wanted to hear. 'Oh, you're going to make more money,' and 'You’re going to do less hours and guarantee earnings for you.' And all that was -- I don't want to say it on the news, but you can figure it out," Moses said.

In a statement, Uber said median driver earnings are around $32 before adding in driver incentives.

“In California median earnings for drivers the entire time they are on the app, excluding tips, are currently $32.33 per hour and $42.44 per hour when including driver incentives. To date tens of millions of dollars have been paid out to drivers and delivery people to cover minimum earnings and healthcare subsidies in California because of Prop 22. “

Lyft also told NBC 7 the company is not seeing an impact on services as a result of the strike, adding its “drivers are busier now than even before the pandemic -- with drivers in top markets earning more than $30 an hour.”

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