Uber has slashed driver wages in the last month, with some reportedly earning less than minimum wage. Now drivers are planning a protest in San Francisco right when they could be significantly increasing their hourly pay.
The city expects roughly 300,000 visitors to begin pouring in this weekend for the Super Bowl and that means a very real increase in traffic and Uber ride requests. Uber, which is an official Super Bowl 50 partner, is guaranteeing its drivers a minimum of $35 per hour in the city during peak times over the course of the event.
Uber disputes those who say it has cut driver wages by as much as 50 cents a mile (some reports say 30 cents per mile) and that it never intended to do so. The Rideshare company also says the price cut was to help boost demand during slow winter months.
“By cutting prices for riders, we can give them one more reason to take a ride, which helps keep drivers busier during the slow season. To put drivers’ minds at ease, we have hourly earnings guarantees in place,” an Uber spokesperson told TechCrunch.
The Super Bowl offers a window for drivers who have been hurt by the loss in wages to earn handsomely. So why would drivers forfeit this opportunity? Dave Sutton, the spokesperson for Who’s Driving You, the movement behind a planned driver strike during the Super Bowl, says it’s a way to send a message to Uber that the company needs to treat its drivers better.
“Uber drivers have suffered repeated fare cuts with no way to hold Uber accountable. Mucking up Uber’s Super Bowl performance is the perfect vehicle to showcase their grievances and demands,” Sutton said in a statement.
It’s not clear how many drivers plan to strike or if this will even make a dent. Drivers aren’t unionized in SF and there are plenty of new drivers – and those willing to drive for more pay for one weekend – if the protestors don’t want to do it.
Blogger and Uber driver Harry Campbell (known as The Ride Share guy online) doesn’t see Uber shaking over the strike threat.
“I think the only way Uber will even sit down at the table with drivers is if the strikes start to affect their bottom line,” Campbell said.
Will Sutton and his movement make enough noise to get Uber’s attention this weekend? About 1,000 higher-end black car drivers in NYC were able to get the company to change policies after protesting a change that would require them to drive for lower wages with UberX. However, others have tried to organize and failed. One group of drivers tried to put together a massive, nationwide strike that didn’t do much damage last October.
How will the driver strike affect our ability to get a ride during the Super Bowl? Will it affect Uber in a significant way? Who knows at this moment. We’ll be keeping an eye on things and will let you know what happens.