Uber and Lyft drivers in more than a dozen cities around the world are participating in an international day of protest, calling for better wages and working conditions days ahead of Uber’s estimated $91 billion IPO. Spearheaded by Rideshare Drivers United, a Los Angeles-based association of drivers, many are calling on passengers to temporarily boycott the ride services by turning off the apps.
Cofounder and former CEO Travis Kalanick’s stake may be worth as much as $5.9 billion. But the IPO will not be life-changing for most drivers, who Uber insists are independent contractors, not employees.
From Melbourne, Australia, to New York City, drivers and supporters rallied to protest the business model that many say exploits workers. The fact that drivers in different cities were able to gather and protest on the same day, creating headlines around the world, appeared to be major feat of the organizing capacity of drivers. It’s one of the largest coordinated protests by gig economy workers in recent history.
According to Chicago driver Lenny Sanch, who helped organize a rally outside City Hall, “The day of action was already a success prior to it starting. We caused an organic rising in a short amount of time.”