NEW YORK — “We’re fighting to receive the pay raise we’re entitled to,” Yohan Fulgencio, an Uber driver since 2015, told the Militant Feb. 26. “With inflation, all of our operating expenses have gone up — gas, insurance, repairs, maintenance fees and tickets. Everything falls on the driver. The city approved a raise for drivers last year that was supposed to start in December.”
Fulgencio was participating in a one-day strike of Uber and Lyft workers at LaGuardia Airport here. The New York Taxi Workers Alliance organized the protest after a judge ruled in January on a lawsuit filed by Uber bosses blocking the planned pay raise approved by New York’s Taxi and Limousine Commission. Sunday’s strike came before a March 1 TLC hearing on new pay rules.
After a rally of several hundred at a parking lot near the airport, drivers fanned out to picket at airport locations. Striking drivers did not pick up passengers at the airport between 2 p.m. and midnight. “It’s not just normal wear and tear that we’re responsible for,” Money, who does not use a last name, explained. “A customer broke my back window. It cost me $500 to repair. Uber paid $80, I had to pay the rest.”
“The company takes too much of our money,” Ajay Singh said. “We get less than 50% of the fare the passenger pays.” He showed this reporter the record of a recent trip. The passenger paid Uber $45. Singh received just $18.
They’re also demanding an end to Uber’s ability to unilaterally deactivate drivers in response to customer complaints without an investigation. “A customer falsely said my car smelled like marijuana,” Fulgencio said. “Uber cut my access to the app ‘until further notice’ without even talking to me. A few hours later they ruled it was a false charge, but I was off the app and out of work for more than a day.”
Jamal Uddin, a driver for 20 years, first with Yellow Cab and now with Uber, said, “I was deactivated for two years on a customer’s false complaint.”