CBS News: Uber, Lyft drivers at Newark Liberty International Airport join nationwide strike on Valentine's Day

22 Feb 2024

NEWAR K, N.J. — Uber and Lyft drivers at Newark Liberty International Airport joined a nationwide strike on Valentine’s Day.

The drivers say they are not getting any love from the ride-share platforms, so they’re starting a 24-hour strike and taking the holiday off in protest.

“We are on strike. We want our rights because they are taking too much money, Uber and Lyft,” said Reyhan Ranguz, with the Independent Drivers Guild.

The union says the two platforms are taking a big chunk of the drivers’ wages as gas and insurance costs go up.

“When they started it, 10% was the commission. Now with the passage of time, they have increased the commission up to 65-70%. Uber is now at 70%. There’s no check on them,” said Muhammad Anwar, of the International Drivers Guild. “The drivers pay for the car, he pays for the gas, he pays for the insurance. They have families to feed, as well.”

Drivers held a rally at the airport’s ride-share lot until 1 p.m. CBS New York’s Christine Sloan reported it was peaceful and no entrances or exits were blocked.

“No, not driving, not driving. No love for Uber or Lyft today. My app is off. Lyft too. I’m off today, no work today,” driver Viclian Santiago added.  

Similar rallies were scheduled in at least 17 cities, including Philadelphia and San Francisco.

Uber released the following statement Wednesday:

“These types of events have rarely had any impact on trips, prices or driver availability, and we expect the same today. That’s because the vast majority of drivers are satisfied – earnings remain strong, and as of last quarter, drivers in the U.S. were making about $33 per utilized hour. We also continue to act on driver feedback, adding new safety features to the app and improving our account deactivation processes.”

Lyft released a statement saying:

“We are constantly working to improve the driver experience, which is why just this month we released a series of new offers and commitments aimed at increasing driver pay and transparency. This includes a new earnings commitment and an improved deactivation appeals process. Now, drivers will always make at least 70% of the weekly rider fares after external fees. It’s all part of our new customer-obsessed focus on drivers.”

A spokesperson for Lyft added that in 2023, drivers who earned $30 an hour got to keep a little over $23, including tips and bonuses.

Drivers, though, have other complaints about the platforms’ deactivation process. Driver Raul Aragones says he was put out of commission after a false accusation.

“He attacked me physically, so what they did was they actually pulled me out of the account, they close out my account, and three years after they settle everything down with the client, they told me to open another account,” Aragones said.

Both Lyft and Uber say they take investigations seriously, and a Lyft spokesperson says they’ve simplified deactivation appeals.

“They don’t care about the driver. They need to take care of more of us,” one person said.

On the safety issue, the platform said drivers can now connect with an ADT security agent in real time if they have an issue. 

By Christine Sloan