It’s easy to lose track of all the fucked-up things Uber has been up to in recent years, but you might recall that this is not the first time drivers on the app have organized. In 2017, Uber faced heavy backlash following its rollout of upfront pricing -- which allowed it to hike fares and line its pockets with the surplus -- prompted the company to issue an apology to riders in NYC. The same year, the NYTWA went on strike at JFK airport in protest of President Trump’s Muslim ban -- Uber crossed the picket line, inspiring the widely used hashtag #DeleteUber.
“Drivers are at the heart of our service -- we can’t succeed without them -- and thousands of people come into work at Uber every day focused on how to make their experience better, on and off the road,” an Uber representative emailed Thrillist. “Whether it’s more consistent earnings, stronger insurance protections or fully-funded four-year degrees for drivers or their families, we’ll continue working to improve the experience for and with drivers.”
That statement, though, is rather at odds with a couple of illumination passages from the SEC filing:
"... we continue to experience dissatisfaction with our platform from a significant number of Drivers. In particular, as we aim to reduce Driver incentives to improve our financial performance, we expect Driver dissatisfaction will generally increase ... Further, we are investing in our autonomous vehicle strategy, which may add to Driver dissatisfaction over time, as it may reduce the need for Drivers.”
In its response to Thrillist, Uber also highlighted its Driver Appreciation Reward, a one-time cash payment to certain qualifying drivers. “We’ll trade you the one-time cash payment for a lifetime of livable incomes,” Desai said in response. She noted that Uber and Lyft seem to have entered “panic mode” ahead of the strike -- incentivizing passengers by cutting rates or drivers by offering surge pricing.
Uber declined to comment specifically on the protests, but we can get the gist from the SEC filing:
“Driver dissatisfaction has in the past resulted in protests by Drivers, most recently in India, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Such protests have resulted, and any future protests may result, in interruptions to our business. Continued Driver dissatisfaction may also result in a decline in our number of platform users, which would reduce our network liquidity.”
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