Uber entered the market hawking a utopian promise: Customers pay a small fee for a personal driver, with any tips included in the base fare. But, as the company’s legion of drivers argue, compensation is lacking -- and exacerbated by the zero tips they receive.
That’s why Uber drivers in New York, in conjunction with Independent Drivers Guild, have been campaigning since last summer to integrate a tipping option in the app for drivers in the city. Now, they’ve added social media to their arsenal, producing two new videos that proclaim “star ratings don’t pay the bills.”
An integral part of the Uber experience, drivers and passengers rate each other with stars when the ride is over. Drivers, for their part, would rather have a few extra bucks at the end of a shift, as opposed to a glistening 5-star rating. “We are fighting to increase driver earnings and tipping could put hundreds of millions of dollars in drivers pockets each year. Uber’s refusal to give passengers a tipping option has effectively slashed driver pay, making it all the more difficult for drivers and their families to get by in one of the most expensive cities in America,” IDG founder Jim Conigliaro, Jr said in a statement.
The campaign representing the IDG’s ride-hail drivers presents another dilemma for Uber, which has faced a wave of crises since February. Since former engineer Susan Fowler wrote a viral blogpost describing the company’s misogynistic workplace culture, Uber has been sued by Google for allegedly lifting autonomous driving tech, while CEO Travis Kalanick faced a PR disaster for treating one of his rank-and-file drivers like dirt. That, believe it or not, is just the beginning of the cataclysmic shit storm bearing down on the company.
As far as tipping is concerned, the IDG proposed new legislation in February that would make an in-app tipping function law in all New York City ride-share vehicles. The bill is currently slogging through the legislative process, waiting for city officials and the Taxi and Limousine Commission to approve it by mid-April.
In the meantime, drivers are making noise on the internet in the form of an online petition, social media advertisements and other union swag like flyers, bar napkins, and stickers. Whatever the outcome of the campaign, the Uber tipping dilemma will surely continue to fester, because people love to complain about tipping Uber drivers.
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