Uber drivers are rallying outside the ride-hailing company’s Redondo Beach offices today, in response to a recent wage cut announced earlier this month.
Hundreds of drivers for both Uber and Lyft joined a 25-hour strike organized by Rideshare Drivers United, a coalition of Southern California ride-hailing drivers that formed last year.
The action followed a recent wage restructuring for Los Angeles-area Uber drivers that reduced per-mile rates by 25 percent (while raising per-minute rates 16 percent). Those changes reversed a September decision by the company to increase per-mile charges.
In a message to drivers, the company said the September rate change “did not have the intended impact,” and that pay going forward would be on par with “pre-September average earnings.”
Protesters Monday denounced that decision, accusing the company of cutting costs in advance of a long-anticipated initial public offering. Rival company Lyft will be the first to go public this week, with Uber expected to follow in the coming month.
Rideshare Drivers United - Los Angeles members picket as part of a 25-hour strike called in protest of Uber's announcement to enact a 25 percent wage cut for its drivers in Redondo Beach. #uber #protest pic.twitter.com/NzOShRyCxE— Genaro Molina (@GenaroMolina47) March 25, 2019
“This is the only job I’ve ever had that the longer I do it the less I make,” driver Esterphainie Jeanne St. Juste said in a statement.
Protesters in Redondo Beach demanded better support for drivers, more transparent pay agreements, and a $28 per hour minimum wage.
Last year, a UCLA survey of Uber and Lyft drivers in the Los Angeles area found that roughly half of drivers work full time and that more than 40 percent struggle to pay for gas, maintenance, and insurance for their vehicles. Meanwhile, a separate 2018 study from the Economic Policy Institute found that nationwide Uber drivers make less than $12 per hour, on average.
In a statement, the company said that the recent wage restructuring was aimed at bolstering limited time promotional opportunities when drivers can earn extra income. The changes, says a company spokesperson, are meant to give drivers “more control over how they earn by allowing them to build a model that fits their schedule best.”
The rally drew drivers from around the region, but many elected to steer clear of the picket lines. As protesters spoke at a noon press conference, estimated wait times for an Uber ride in Hollywood were under 5 minutes.