Drivers protest fare breaks, fee hikes at Uber HQ

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Protesters outside of Uber HQ
Photo by Joe Fitzgerald Rodriguez

Uber drivers protested the company outside its San Francisco headquarters today, and their complaint was simple: They feel Uber is picking their pockets. 

"They tricked us!" shouted Ramzi Reguii, an Uber driver and one of the lead speakers at the protest. 

The crowd of about 40 or so drivers held signs reading "Uber Exploitation" and "Uber workers are blue collar." 

At issue is an email Uber sent to drivers (known as "partners," in Uber parlance) in January. Uber warned it planned to decrease fares for riders by 20 percent to boost sales during the slow winter months. To offset this, the company also promised to reduce its own commission from 15 percent to 5 percent in order to help shoulder the decreased profits drivers may face.

In the email to its partners, the company promised "this is a test we are running during a traditionally slow period in January and possibly into February and March," noting "depending on the results, we can best determine how long to do the promotion."

In April, Uber boosted its commission up to 20 percent, but did not adjust fares, creating a double whammy Reguii called "ridiculous."

uber_pricing

The drivers contend Uber is stringing them along, telling them fare cuts are only temporary only to later renege on its promises. 

"Right now it's very hard to make money working at Uber," a driver, Eugene Vinnikov, told us at the protest. He quit his job to work for Uber full-time, favoring the flexible work hours. But he told us the lowered fares means he must work excess work hours, which eat away at the flexibility that made Uber so attractive in the first place.

For its part, Uber was out at the protest listening to concerns. A team of Uber employees mingled with the crowd, listening to drivers' complaints and explaining reasons behind certain decisions.

Uber San Francisco General Manager Ilya Abyzov stood toe to toe with drivers, coffee in hand, and deep shadows under his eyes. 

uberdriver

He said he understands where the drivers are coming from.

"These drivers are running a business," Abyzov told the Guardian. Uber has to make sure its drivers are as well cared for as their customers, he said. "Our business doesn't exist without both sides."

Lane Kasselman, an Uber spokesperson, also noted Uber is offering a $1 trip incentive through the summer to offset driver costs. 

But most of that is too little, too late for some drivers. 

"I love Uber, we all do," one driver shouted at Abyzov, just a foot from his face. "But now I have to work sixteen hours to make what I was making in a day before." 

Abyzov simply stood there, listening.

Comments

Will the unionized workers at the Guardian stand with the Uber partner?

Posted by Guest on May. 08, 2014 @ 4:42 pm

I read this piece of writing completely on the topic of the resemblance of
hottest and earlier technologies, it's amazing article.

Posted by http://www.zebogameswsmobile.com on Jun. 19, 2014 @ 3:45 pm

Disrupting the disruptors. Nice.

Posted by marcos on May. 08, 2014 @ 5:34 pm

@marcos - The whole "disruptors" spin is really, really dumb. Basically it's people buying cars and consuming gas, having their most deprecable asset deprecate more quickly, and now they're being paid fewer peanuts. Sounds like perpetuation of the status quo to me.

Posted by Jym on May. 08, 2014 @ 5:52 pm

Nod.

Posted by marcos on May. 08, 2014 @ 7:23 pm

He loves protests, hates the sharing economy, dislikes lower pay but wants better value.

So he should stay silent, but that would be too difficult for him.

Me? I love Uber and think their pay should be a matter of free negotiation. None of our beeswax.

Posted by Guest on May. 08, 2014 @ 11:32 pm

This post will assist the internet users for setting
up new web site or even a blog from start to end.

Posted by boom beach hack on Jul. 03, 2014 @ 6:35 pm

People drive for Uber full time? Isn't that just being a cabbie without paying for the hack medallion? This doesn't sound like "sharing" to me.

Posted by Guest on May. 09, 2014 @ 1:25 am
Posted by Guest on May. 09, 2014 @ 3:58 am

Sharing is caring.

Posted by marcos on May. 09, 2014 @ 7:34 am

The passenger cares that his driver is compensated for his time, effort and assets.

The care is shared.

Posted by Guest on May. 09, 2014 @ 7:56 am

Sounds exactly like a taxi, only without the $100,000 medallion.

Posted by Guest on May. 09, 2014 @ 11:10 am

If I get where I'm going and I like the price, then I do not give a flying damn what you call it.

Posted by Guest on May. 09, 2014 @ 11:26 am

Likewise, you mean nothing to me. Only difference is, you're full of shit for calling it "sharing". I personally don't care about Uber, or hacks. But I loath bullshit, and SF politics is brimming over with it. Call it what it is, or admit that you're a liar.

Posted by Guest on May. 09, 2014 @ 12:36 pm

If I share my cash with a driver who is sharing his vehicle, then we are both sharing and are part of the sharing economy.

So there.

Posted by Guest on May. 09, 2014 @ 10:32 pm

So if the drives runs someone over, will you 'share' the liability?

Posted by BayAreaGuy on May. 10, 2014 @ 3:55 am

may incur a financial obligation to the person hurt in any incident.

But it is rare for one party to be held as 100% at fault. So in a sense, yes, the liability is shared.

Posted by Guest on May. 10, 2014 @ 4:26 am

Do as you like, but stop bullshitting. It's a taxi without a medallion. If you feel there's nothing wrong with it, why lie about what it is?

Posted by Guest on May. 10, 2014 @ 11:48 am

Drivers, pedestrians and riders all should care if someone is driving sixteen hour shifts on our streets and highways. Does Uber bear responsibility allowing a driver to log onto their network for this period of time?

Posted by Guest on May. 09, 2014 @ 12:18 pm
Posted by Guest on May. 09, 2014 @ 10:33 pm

UBER X (non TCP ,i.e ridesharing), LYFT, Sidecar, etc. should be banned from the streets of San Francisco and other metro areas. None of these cars have Commercial Insurance, UBER didn't disclose any terms of it's blanket policy to it's drivers.
- All "Drivers want to be" have to apply for livery and commercial insurance. No one tells them they can't do it. They simply become greedy.
- UBER shouldn't have any authority to conduct background checks , since drivers are not employees of the company and UBER does not own cars driven.

Posted by Dron01 on May. 10, 2014 @ 11:17 am

Uber hired a man with a seriously aggravated driving record in another state. The same who killed a little girl on New Year's in SF, now Uber claims no liability under a totally bs technicality (i.e. the regulations/legislation surrounding ride share companies in SF are currently largely undefined)- is anyone surprised to see them behave badly in other ways? I boycott their services, and if I were one of their drivers, I wouldn't waste precious time protesting, personally- I'd go work for Lyft.

Posted by Guest on May. 13, 2014 @ 10:25 am

Uber hired a man with a seriously aggravated driving record in another state. The same who killed a little girl on New Year's in SF, now Uber claims no liability under a totally bs technicality (i.e. the regulations/legislation surrounding ride share companies in SF are currently largely undefined)- is anyone surprised to see them behave badly in other ways? I boycott their services, and if I were one of their drivers, I wouldn't waste precious time protesting, personally- I'd go work for Lyft.

Posted by Guest on May. 13, 2014 @ 10:26 am

Uber hired a man with a seriously aggravated driving record in another state. The same who killed a little girl on New Year's in SF, now Uber claims no liability under a totally bs technicality (i.e. the regulations/legislation surrounding ride share companies in SF are currently largely undefined)- is anyone surprised to see them behave badly in other ways? I boycott their services, and if I were one of their drivers, I wouldn't waste precious time protesting, personally- I'd go work for Lyft.

Posted by Guest on May. 13, 2014 @ 10:26 am

Uber is great

Posted by Guest on Jul. 12, 2014 @ 9:48 am

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