Uber drivers across America are going on strike -- UPDATED

Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2019/04/29/may-8.html


Good. We need more workers standing up to the bullshit that this world has become. I hope it pays off.

That reminds me, I need to read Ruined By Design, now that it’s out.


They both, are sucking the lifeblood out of their drivers. They need to add Phoenix to the strike.


I’ve talked to drivers who drive for both companies, and they basically say they’re equally difficult to work for as their pay has gone down, with one big difference: Uber still pretends that your tip is “included in the ride cost”, which is bullshit, while Lyft encourages you to tip and makes it easy through the app.


When did they start doing that? I haven’t used uber in about 6 months, but I always found it easy to add a tip and don’t remember ever hearing that it was “included.” Then again I’m kinda oblivious to those kinds of messages.

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Uber reluctantly added tipping to their app not long ago, after years of insisting on the site and app that the drivers were compensated with your fare and that tipping was unnecessary. Here’s the language about tipping from their partner site (which hilariously spells out that tips are not included in the fare, despite what their app used to say):



When I first heard of Uber, I thought the drivers were actual contract workers which meant they could set their own rates. Instead, they are a weird middle type of worker that get no employee protections while not getting to set or negotiate the terms of their working.

Lately, I’ve been thinking that would be a good way for the service to work. Let driver’s set their own rates and Uber or Lyft takes a cut of it. If they did that, I think a lot of their problems would go away.


Freelancers have more freedom to set rates when there’s competition for services and they have skills to demand a premium. A client can say, I have this work I can pay $X for it, and you are free to take that or leave it depending on what other choices are on offer. When there’s two dominant players and a nearly unlimited number of people to do the work, the workers can only gain pricing power through organizing.


Our cab drivers in the city are also on an on-going job action to protest whatever.

For years, they purposely show up late, take the slow routes and limit their interactions with the customers to “Where to?” “Pay before we go.” and “Are you drunk? Let’s party.”

But… related to Uber. There are a few guys in town that own fleets of Uber cars, recruit foreign students (usually from India) to drive for them. Drivers pay to ‘lease’ the cars daily, lucky to make a buck at the end of the day, meanwhile the owners collect big $ on the lease and fares.

You would think, looking at how these ride-shares work that the driver is THE key component to making the whole enterprise work, yet they get pissed on left & right by the company. Why? There’s always someone hungry enough to replace the disgruntled (who then rotate to the other ride-share companies).

Makes me long for the small town I grew up in. If you needed to get somewhere, you phoned Gerry’s wife (dispatch) and she sent the address to him via pager. He came along in his minivan, $5 a trip, would help you carry in groceries and all that.

Now your lucky if you aren’t dropped off in a snowbank to die.


(Pre-Edit: Going on a rant so this isn’t just a response to this statement!)

Back in the day, they used to punish us for not keeping up a high enough acceptance rate. Folks like me would do what we could to keep our acceptance rate above 60% because below that and they could ‘deactivate’ us…the fake word for firing which they couldn’t use and keep up the fiction that we were contractors. A few court rulings and it turns out, forcing us to take rides WAS pretty much an employer/employee relationship – which means that they stopped caring about this and now only care when you agree to take a ride and cancel.

So, TECHNICALLY we can set our own rates to an extent. I won’t take anything less than a 2.5x surge. Standard rate is literally 2 cents a mile above what the IRS says is required maintenance for the average vehicle. I.e., If we get $0.50 a mile, it costs $0.48 in gas/maintenance. And the hourly rate is less than minimum wage if you actually calculate it, meaning that in MOST cases, if you were driving at standard rates without tips, you’d make about $6.00 an hour after putting the money back into your vehicle.

So…we can set our rates in the most strict of senses. I drive at 2.5x or higher and if a request comes through for less than that, I ignore it.

This isn’t to say this is sustainable or fair. For me and other part-timers, this can be profitable. Uber/Lyft couldn’t survive if there were only part-timers. Their entire business model requires a good percentage of drivers to be full-time or they’d both fail immediately. Which means for the business model to work, a good deal of drivers CAN’T set their own rates because they have to take everything that comes in and hope that somehow the universe balances things out.

Personally? I tip all service workers 20%. If you can’t tip 20% of the total bill, WALK YOU FUCKING SOCIOPATH. Same as a restaurant. If you can’t tip 20%, GET YOUR FUCKING ASS TO A KITCHEN AND LEARN TO FUCKING COOK FOR YOURSELF. $1 a ride isn’t good enough…unless your ride was less than $5. Beyond this, you don’t know how much Uber is taking and how much the driver is getting…they used to guarantee a 70/30 split with the driver taking the largest portion. These days, drivers on average are lucky if they take home 30% of the split. So, whatever the cost, add a 20% tip.


To me, this kind of seems like the scabs are going on strike.

If Uber/Lyft drivers set their own rates, then I wouldn’t tip them.

There are a lot of service workers I don’t tip. My plumber, my UPS driver, the cashier at my grocery store, any of my kids’ teachers or coaches, my pharmacist, my doctor, etc…


I’d hope you were able to understand that when someone uses the term ‘Service Worker’, they could understand the context.

All work is by definition service. Or should be. However, when I’m talking about service worker, I’m talking about folks whose income is based on their service – and the gratuity involved. A UPS driver gets on average $60k a year. They don’t need your tips. Your plumber probably makes about the same. Call them in the middle of the night? Yeah, you might want to throw a little extra their way (unless they are doubling their $60 an hour fee).

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relabel piece work as gig works… And it’s STILL piece work.

It times of yore, it wasn’t acceptable then. Had it been labeled to be recognizable… no one would have bought in on it.

Marketing (lying) at work.

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Because the company can.

A better question is, if they can’t make a buck driving for this guy, why are there still people willing to work for him? Is it because there’s a sucker born every minute? Desperation? What a time to be alive.

I understand that you can’t get rich working for someone else (or at least not nearly as rich as that “someone else” gets), but the “job creators/owners” really need to return to providing a living wage for the gears and cogs that keep their money machines running.


If they want to have an impact, do it on a Saturday night. Or Cinco de mayo. Otherwise it’s just blandly symbolic.

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Yeah. I keep reminding myself how lucky—privileged, really—we are that we can create stuff we own, and make money off of those skills.


The snowbank sounds very peaceful in comparison to the violence and trauma experienced by passengers and drivers these days.


True, there are worse times to be alive. My concern is we are heading toward and amalgam of some of them. The same old problems with a sparkly new coat of paint. Rather that working toward an even better time to be alive.


I was just saying I feel lucky to not have to drive people places. I am … not great at driving.

But yeah.