Uber drivers in New York City called Monday for a strike to protest the company’s decision to cut fares by 15 percent, as drivers rallied at the ride-sharing app’s New York headquarters.
Several hundred attended the protest, but it’s not clear how many would heed the call for a shutdown. The company has roughly 30,000 registered vehicles in New York City.
Mohammed Rahman, a driver from the Bronx who’s been in the business for two decades, said the cost cut is too deep. Drivers cover their own insurance, payments on vehicles and gas.
“Before, we made little, not much — but enough to feed the family,” said the father of two. “But this is really, really bad.”
The drivers behind the work stoppage were trying to get the word out to colleagues with fliers and social media. But thousands of cars still were on the road, many because they had not heard about the labor action. Uber drivers aren’t unionized in New York.
“In order to change something with the low rates that Uber imposed on the drivers, we should cripple the city, so New Yorkers know what’s happening to us,” said Rajko Ljutica, a longtime driver who has worked for other limo companies he says are now being choked by Uber. “Uber is like a spreading cancer, killing the yellow cab industry and other car services.”
The popular ride-sharing app announced the price reduction Friday. A company spokesman said its data shows the fare reductions are actually helping drivers earn more money by drumming up business. The spokesman said if the lower prices don’t work, they’ll be rolled back.
“Every city has busy months and slow times. In New York things tend to be quieter [now]. So we lowered prices to get more people using Uber, which is good for drivers because it means less time waiting around for trips,” said spokesman Matt Wing. “As we have always said, price cuts need to work for drivers.”