Uber and Lyft drivers rallied outside of LaGuardia Airport on Sunday in anticipation of an airport strike which would essentially cut off cab access for travelers.
The New York Taxi Workers Alliance (NYTWA) revealed that the app drivers plan to go on strike Sunday, Feb. 26 in protest of the rideshare companies alleged reluctance to give appropriate pay raises. This will mark the third action in an ongoing battle between the companies and the workers since a lawsuit blocked a pay hike that was set to hit workers’ wallets in December 2022.
The NYTWA said drivers will refuse to accept LaGuardia Airport fares from 12 p.m. to 12 a.m. next Sunday, in addition to holding picket lines outside of the airport — blocking the area for other cars and cabs — in an effort to showcase the importance of their work in the daily lives of New Yorkers.
“In one week from today, at LaGuardia Airport, thousands of Uber and Lyft drivers will be on strike. No pickups at LaGuardia. From 12 noon to 12 nidnight next Sunday,” founder of the NYTWA Bhairavi Desai told the crowd. “It’s a targeted strike to send a message to Uber Technologies and a message to Lyft that the drivers will not be exploited. The drivers are sick and tired of low wages.”
Assembling inside the LaGuardia Airport Uber/Lyft Cell Phone Lot on 23rd Avenue and 91st Street, furious motorists brandished protest signs and chanted “Shame on Uber!” and “Stop their Greed!”
Workers say they’re left to scrape by, struggling to put food on the table and fuel in their vehicle’s tank — all the while, they charge, Uber and Lyft’s earnings are through the roof. Protesters also cited a recent UCLA report alleging that the companies are taking a larger cut of passenger fares in comparison to drivers who are doing the work.
“Last year when every American was struggling paying for bread and milk, which went up higher than it’s been in 40 years in our country, drivers were also struggling having to pay for gasoline and vehicle expenses, which went up 250 times more than the price of bread and milk,” Desai added.
An Uber spokesperson fired back at the action, however, stating that the drivers have received a third raise in as many years. The spokesperson also denounced the UCLA report.
“If they looked at all the data rather then ignoring the vast majority of months as well as incentives, bonuses and surge pricing — driver earnings are up 41.7% since 2018, Uber’s cut has declined to around 16% and government taxes and fees have exploded to make up 18% of rider payments on average,” the rep told amNewYork Metro.
However, drivers refuted this, claiming that the 39% increase is not enough to live on amid ever-increasing New York City rent hikes. Those at the rally also accused Uber of threatening to forcefully log drivers out of the app who push back against the company through strikes.
Late last year, drivers powered over the Brooklyn Bridge in a convoy that ended with a picket line at Foley Square, and on Jan. 5, drivers brought that picket line to Uber’s Manhattan offices at 75 Greenwich St.