San Francisco, Calif. — On Wednesday morning, a caravan of round 50 Uber and Lyft drivers cruised down a quiet road in San Francisco’s ritzy Pacific Heights’ neighborhood and parked in front of Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi’s house. One white van with a “Black Lives Matter” signal draped over the roof blasted Dolly Parton’s working-class anthem “9 to 5” from their speaker system. A girl who joined the protest on foot held an indication declaiming how Uber owes her $90,000 in again wages. Two protesters held a banner studying “a thief lives here.”
But for the hour-and-a-half that drivers spoke, chanted and honked, the “thief” in query was nowhere to be discovered. “We want Dara,” one protester shouted, in front of his four-story house.
Drivers stuffed the void of Khosrowshahi’s absence with speeches that boiled down to one core message: the exploitation of app-based drivers has gone too far. The protest, organized by Gig Workers Rising and We Drive Progress, arrives at a second in which the pandemic, Uber’s disinformation marketing campaign in response to Assembly Bill 5, and racial and financial inequalities have pushed drivers to a tipping level. While the drivers wished to get Khosrowshahi’s direct consideration, they did have a listing of particular calls for, together with the availability of private protecting gear (PPE) for drivers.
Alan Franklin, who has pushed for Uber and Lyft for the final three years, informed Salon he joined the protest in half to deliver credibility to the work drivers do. The boss, Franklin defined, “seems to maybe have forgotten that we are his bread and butter.”
“We were promised things to protect us and our passengers, known as PPE, such as hand sanitizer, possible screens to set that six-foot distance, and none of those things were ever given to us,” Franklin stated, including that as enterprise declined, driver security appeared to get left behind. “Our safety became, not second place, not third place, but just dead last.”
As shelter-in-place began to ripple throughout the nation, Uber closed its Greenlight Hubs, amenities the place drivers can go to get in-person assist. Their closure left many in the darkish after they confronted bureaucratic or monetary hurdles as a member of Uber’s contract workforce.
Uber claims to have distributed PPE as of mid-May to not less than 450,000 drivers, however many of the drivers at Wednesday’s protest stated that they had seen no proof of that. Salon contacted Uber for a remark, however did not obtain a response relating to PPE. Amid the pandemic, there have been a number of studies of drivers dying of COVID-19
“We were promised PPE and that PPE was never delivered,” Franklin stated.
Cherri Murphy, social justice minister in the East Bay and chief at Gig Workers Rising, who has been driving for Lyft for 3 years, stated she joined the protest in solidarity with Uber drivers to demand that Uber drops a ballot measure that might exempt app-based drivers from California’s Assembly Bill 5 (AB 5). While AB 5 mandates Uber and Lyft to make drivers W-2 workers, each firms have as an alternative manipulated the job standards of their drivers to strengthen the argument that they are impartial contractors as an alternative.
Uber and Lyft are on the helm of an astroturf coalition known as Protect App-Based Drivers & Services, together with DoorDash, Postmates and Instacart. They have collectively spent a reported $110 million on the initiative to keep away from having to convert their staff to workers and thus pay them normal advantages.
Murphy informed Salon that earlier than the pandemic, driving for Lyft was already like “rubbing two pennies together, trying to make ends meet.”
“The pandemic really exposed a lot of systemic issues, particularly [with] Black Lives Matter,” Murphy stated, including that Uber and Lyft’s hole solidarity statements don’t match their actions. “If you believe that Black lives matter, then drop the ballot measure and do what you’re supposed to do.”
The setting of the protest made the life-style distinction between drives and CEO fairly stark. Khosrowshahi’s purported $16.5 million house sits in one of the wealthiest neighborhoods in one of the wealthiest cities of America; the employees out front had been demanding essentially the most fundamental office rights and protections. Of course, this was strategic.
“We’re out here in front of this $16.5 million house, while they’re living comfortably and we’re out here fighting [to] secure our bills and have a place to live,” Murphy defined to Salon.
Hector Castellanos, a Bay Area driver for Lyft and Uber and chief with We Drive Progress, informed Salon drivers are horrified that Uber has spent hundreds of thousands on the ballot initiative after they might have spent it on PPE, unemployment, or different advantages for workers. As Salon has beforehand reported,
“A few years ago, I have shoulder surgery and I have eight months without working, and I didn’t receive anything from this company,” Castellanos informed Salon. “My daughter was in school and she had to drop out of school to help me with the house payments and everything.”
Drivers weren’t the one attendees. San Francisco Supervisor Gordon Mar confirmed assist on behalf of town’s board of supervisors.
“It’s more important than ever for these corporations to do the right thing, and more importantly to follow the law and properly classify their workers, but unfortunately they’re doing the opposite, they’re doubling down on their illegal business practice,” Mar informed Salon.
Legislative solidarity emerged from outdoors of the protest. Around the identical time the protesters disbanded, information broke that California is in search of to power Uber and Lyft to reclassify their drivers.
Drivers who spoke with Salon stated they may preserve preventing till November.
As the deliberate protest drew to a detailed, drivers wrote their grievances on paper and taped it to Khosrowshahi’s gate. A banner that learn, “Drop the ballot measure” blocked the driveway. Another, smaller signal learn: “Dara, today we come with cars, tomorrow we come with pitchforks.”