The strike was spurred by a recent announcement from Uber – drivers will receive a 25 percent cut in pay per mile in Los Angeles and parts of Orange County. While Uber insists the new rates are fair, and drivers will earn as much as they did last fall, many drivers say they can’t afford it. According to Rideshare Drivers United, an advocacy group, hundreds were at the strike, including Sinakhone Keodara.
“I’m currently homeless,” said Keodara, a Lyft driver. “I don’t make enough to get out of my situation, but I can’t walk away from Lyft. I’m trapped in an endless cycle.” Keodara claims he works 14-hour days, seven days a week but still finds himself sleeping in the car he’s renting from Lyft and skipping meals to save money. Drivers insist that it is hard to earn a living when they have to pay to maintain their vehicles as well.
The companies disagree. Lyft insists that many of their drivers use the service as a source of extra income, not their main income. They maintain that 91% drive fewer than 20 hours a week and noted it has not changed its rates in 12 months. Uber says that the rate changes will allow drivers to have more autonomy over how they earn by affording them the opportunity to make their own schedule.
Rideshare Drivers United are seeking a resolution similar to the rideshare situation in New York City, which sees drivers receiving a $28 per hour salary before expenses (although Lyft and Juno are currently challenging that ruling in court). Additionally, the group would like to be able to have the right to organize, without retaliation. While Uber was recently ordered to pay $20 million in a settlement to California and Massachusetts drivers, it was considered a victory for the company as it could classify drivers as contractors, not employees.
“It is the right of every person in this country, as an employee of a company who provides a service, to make a living wage,” said Carney Shegerian.
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