Uber and Lyft drivers in California went on strike Monday to protest poor treatment and steep pay cuts that dragged their already-paltry wages to unsustainably low levels.
"I stand with Uber and Lyft drivers striking in LA. Drivers must be paid the wages they deserve."
—Sen. Bernie Sanders
Earlier this month, Uber abruptly slashed the minimum fare from $3.75 to $2.62 and per-mile pay from 80 cents to 60 cents in Los Angeles County and parts of Orange County.
The goal of Monday's strike, according to organizers, is to pressure both Uber and Lyft to boost wages and allow drivers "to organize without retaliation."
"We plan to make some noise and create a ruckus to get the 25 percent back that they stole," James Hicks, an Uber driver and spokesman for Rideshare Drivers United (RDU), told the Los Angeles Daily News.
RDU—a group consisting of around 3,000 members—organized the strike, during which participants will not drive for either Uber or Lyft for a full day.
In interviews with local media outlets, Uber drivers said the pay cuts have already had a devastating effect.
"I was working 55 to 60 hours a week and making anywhere from $1,100 to $2,000 a week," Corey Mills, an Uber driver from Chino Hills, told the Los Angeles Daily News. "Now I have to work doubly hard to get the same pay. Last week I worked 82 hours and made $1,000."
Keith Eberl, an Uber driver based in California, acknowledged in an interview with the Los Angeles Times that the one-day strike will not be enough to have a meaningful impact on Uber and Lyft's profits.
"But," he said, "we can certainly get their attention."
"The realization they might have is that this isn't drivers getting together in a crunch to do one strike and go their separate ways," Eberl added. "This is an expanding, growing organization."
Show your love and solidarity for Uber/Lyft Rideshare drivers in Los Angeles. If you use Uber/Lyft, find a taxi, carpool, or find another way to get where you need to go! #StrikeUberLyft #DignityofLabor pic.twitter.com/Lz5cyTQjVM
— Francisco Garcia (@RadicalRevFG) March 23, 2019
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), a 2020 presidential candidate, was among those who expressed solidarity with the striking drivers on Monday.
"I stand with Uber and Lyft drivers striking in LA," tweeted the senator from Vermont. "One job should be enough to make a decent living in America, especially for those working for multi-billion-dollar companies. Drivers must be paid the wages they deserve."
I stand with Uber and Lyft drivers striking in LA. One job should be enough to make a decent living in America, especially for those working for multibillion-dollar companies. Drivers must be paid the wages they deserve. #StrikeUberLyft https://t.co/uyp8E0VkyR
— Bernie Sanders (@BernieSanders) March 25, 2019
The California strike comes as Uber and Lyft drivers nationwide are pushing for the right to organize, which is a difficult task due to their classification as "independent contractors" instead of employees.
"According to Uber, there are currently 900,000 active Uber drivers throughout the United States (and close to 3 million globally), many of whom have reported often making less than minimum wage and struggling to cover the expenses associated with driving," Michael Sainato reported for the Guardian last week.
Nicole Moore, an Uber driver and organizer based in California, tweeted Monday, "we will show Uber, Lyft, and the electeds who need to protect work in America what a union looks like."
"We won't stop till there is justice," Moore said.