There were no noticeable delays or problems when trying to get an Uber in Harlem at eight o’clock this Wednesday morning.
From seven to nine, the New York Taxi Workers Alliance had asked drivers and New Yorkers to turn off the Uber app and those of its competitors, joining a global call to strike, demanding better working conditions from these tech companies.
"I used to make $37 an hour. And today I make about $9.80 an hour. That's how much exploitation Uber is,” said Uber driver Inder Parmar.
Even Mayor de Blasio supported the strike, writing on Twitter, "Working people built this town and we will always stand with you over corporate greed."
It is unclear how successful this day of protest was.
The Alliance finished with a press conference in front of Uber and Lyft's offices in Long Island City.
“May 8, 2019, will long be remembered as the day of awakening for millions of app-drivers across de globe,” said Bhairavi Desai, Executive Director of the New York Taxi Drivers Alliance. “And that’s something no algorithm can’t take away from us.”
A couple of hours earlier, another advocacy group, the Independent Drivers Guild protested at the same spot, joined by dozens of app-based drivers.
“They are not really helpful with driver support,” Kevin Killela, an app-based driver, said. “If it wasn't for all us drivers here today or Uber drivers all across the country, they wouldn’t be selling stock today.”
The Guild receives some funding from Uber, and didn't call for a strike.
“We are standing in solidarity with our brothers and sisters across the country,” Brendan Sexton, executive director of the Independent Drivers Guild said. “They are striking for what we have here in New York City."
And that, among other things, is a mandate by the city of $17.22 an hour.
Uber is expected to raise about $9 billion from investors this Friday. And one thing is clear: it might not get better for drivers any time soon.
In its filings for the IPO, Uber acknowledges drivers’ dissatisfaction will increase, as the company aims to reduce driver incentives to improve its financial performance.