SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX 5) — Rideshare drivers are planning a collective protest on Wednesday ahead of Uber’s initial public offering on Thursday.
Uber is expected to raise billions of dollars by going public on and Lyft has already cashed in with Wall Street investors, and drivers want a piece of the action.
“This being the birthplace, the hub,” said Uber driver Derrick Baker. “We really want people to show up, you know.” Baker will go on strike Wednesday and is asking other rideshare drivers to do the same.
“They stand to raise billions,” he said. “And we’re sitting here, like, ‘Wow, you’re constantly cutting our pay.'”
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While drivers like Derrick are hoping for mass participation, there was also plenty of uncertainty behind on Tuesday.
“I hear about it, but I’m not sure, all the Uber drivers, what they’re going to do,” said Hugo, a driver for both Uber and Lyft. Of course, there is another set of opinions on city streets.
“I’m sympathetic, but not too sympathetic,” said Marcello Fonseca, just one of the medallion-holding cab drivers to suffer in an industry crippled by ride share services. “10 or 15 people will be billionaires, and drivers-for-hire will be struggling,” he says.
“I think that this week is a watershed moment, not just for Uber, but people who have been fighting Uber,” said Veena Dubal, a law professor at UC Hastings. She says the dual focus on Uber’s IPO billions and the striking drivers is a reflection of larger trends in the region.
“What this is sort of representative of is sort of the greater inequality we see in the Bay Area,” says Dubal. “You have workers struggling to even make a living wage, and then you have people buying $50 million houses.”
So, the question on Wednesday is if a critical mass of drivers will be willing to turn off the app to make that point.
“Maybe not. I have bills to pay,” one driver said.
“If he has to get out there and work, I ask him to at least shut your app down for a couple of hours in solidarity to us and what we’re doing,” Baker responded.