2019 Lyft and Uber drivers' strikes

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2019 Lyft and Uber drivers' strikes
DateMarch 25, 2019 and May 8, 2019
United States ()
Caused byLow pay, cut wages, no shareholding opportunities, no benefits
Methods Demonstrations, internet activism, walkout
Parties to the civil conflict
  • Blackcar Drivers United
  • Chicago Rideshare Advocates
  • Gig Workers Rising
  • Industrial Workers of the World
  • Philadelphia Drivers Union
  • Philadelphia Limousine Association
  • Rideshare Drivers United

A series of general strikes was coordinated on March 25, 2019 by Lyft and Uber drivers in Los Angeles, San Diego and San Francisco, California, United States led by rideshare advocate group Rideshare Drivers United. [1] The strikes aimed to protest low wages, long hours, working conditions, and lack of benefits. The event was planned following Lyft's initial public offering. A second strike took place on May 8, 2019 in anticipation of Uber's initial public offering. [2] The strike in response to Uber's IPO took place in 25 major cities across the United States, and were also joined by drivers in other locations worldwide where Uber operates.



Both Lyft and Uber are ridesharing companies. Drivers, serve as independent contractors to Uber and Lyft and provide rides to individuals, similar to taxicab companies. Users are able to request or drive for both companies by downloading a smartphone app. Drivers are required to undergo an initial background check and vehicle inspection to make sure they are properly licensed and have a vehicle that is adequate for the company's standards. Drivers then link to a banking account so that Uber and Lyft can pay drivers for their service. A certain proportion of the rider’s fare goes to the company for administrative support while another goes to the driver for providing the trip.[ citation needed ]

In addition, both companies offer various transportation services beyond peer-to-peer ridesharing. Uber offers food delivery service via Uber Eats, [3] and in select cities, Lyft offers scooter sharing (similar to Lime and Bird). [4]

Both companies, while having multi-billion dollar investments have alleged to be perpetually losing money, with the goal of investors not to make money, but to capture the market share of transportation services, particularly as a replacement to personal automobile use and mass transportation use. The launch of Lyft's initial public offering (IPO) and drivers' pay cuts in Early 2019 led to the first strikes occurring in Los Angeles, San Diego and San Francisco. [5]

The planned strikes came in response to Lyft's decision to go public as a for-profit corporation, while Uber followed suit later that year. The rationale is that most, if not all of Uber and Lyft's profits are income derived from drivers who work for low wages, no benefits, and who are misclassified workers, rather than earned by executives who manage infrastructure. [6]


The first major 24-hour strike was held simultaneously, in Los Angeles, San Diego and San Francisco on March 25, 2019, [7] the day Lyft went public and following a pay-cut announcement from Uber. [8] [9] This prompted both companies to announced financial allocations for driver bonuses, [10] which the California based Rideshare Drivers United union says is inadequate, and still only amounts to a pay of $8.55 per hour. As of mid 2019, all bonuses offered were removed from drivers pay incentives, including the drivers share of Ubers’s “surge”, or Lyft’s “prime” pricing for passengers during busy commute times. The companies still charge riders the higher fares, but have stopped sharing those profits with drivers. [11]

After drivers’ earlier strike against Lyft, a second 24 hour strike was planned on May 8, 2019. [2] This strike included not just California drivers, but drivers from 25 major cities across the US, and was also joined by several other international locations where Uber operates, inciting a highly publicized worldwide strike against Uber Technologies, Inc. [11] The May 8 date was chosen as it coincides with Uber's IPO, which was estimated to raise the company $9 billion. [12] In addition to Los Angeles, San Diego and San Francisco, drivers went on strike in Chicago, Boston, Minneapolis, Philadelphia, and Washington, D.C., and were also joined by drivers from several international locations where Uber operates. [13]


In California, Uber and Lyft drivers demanded that the companies pay their drivers a base minimum wage of $27.86 an hour, so that pay after expenses, such as gas and toll roads, would be at least $17.22, allowing drivers to keep up with the rising cost of living in their cities. [11] Further demands include overtime pay, sick pay, accrued paid time off and paid family leave, a voice on the job through a driver-led union, safety measures to be implemented protecting both driver and passenger safety, and healthcare benefits. [14] [15]

Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Uber</span> American vehicle for hire, freight, food delivery, courier, and parcel delivery company

Uber Technologies, Inc. (Uber), based in San Francisco, provides mobility as a service/ride-hailing, food delivery/package delivery/couriers via Uber Eats and Postmates, and freight transport. Uber sets fares, which vary using a dynamic pricing model based on local supply and demand at the time of the booking and are quoted to the customer in advance, and receives a commission from each booking. It has operations in approximately 70 countries and 10,500 cities and, with 131 million monthly active users and 5.4 million active drivers and couriers worldwide, it generates an average of 23 million trips per day.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">California Public Utilities Commission</span> State government agency of California

The California Public Utilities Commission is a regulatory agency that regulates privately owned public utilities in the state of California, including electric power, telecommunications, natural gas and water companies. In addition, the CPUC regulates common carriers, including household goods movers, passenger transportation companies such as limousine services, and rail crossing safety. The CPUC has headquarters in the Civic Center district of San Francisco, and field offices in Los Angeles and Sacramento.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Lyft</span> American ride-sharing company

Lyft, Inc. offers mobility as a service, ride-hailing, vehicles for hire, motorized scooters, a bicycle-sharing system, rental cars, and food delivery in the United States and select cities in Canada. Lyft sets fares, which vary using a dynamic pricing model based on local supply and demand at the time of the booking and are quoted to the customer in advance, and receives a commission from each booking. Lyft is the second-largest ridesharing company in the United States after Uber.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">San Francisco congestion pricing</span>

San Francisco congestion pricing is a proposed traffic congestion user fee for vehicles traveling into the most congested areas of the city of San Francisco at certain periods of peak demand. The charge would be combined with other traffic reduction projects. The proposed congestion pricing charge is part of a mobility and pricing study being carried out by the San Francisco County Transportation Authority (SFCTA) to reduce congestion at and near central locations and to reduce its associated environmental impacts, including cutting greenhouse gas emissions. The funds raised through the charge will be used for public transit improvement projects, and for pedestrian and bike infrastructure and enhancements.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Shared transport</span> Demand-driven vehicle-sharing arrangement

Shared transport or shared mobility is a transportation system where travelers share a vehicle either simultaneously as a group or over time as personal rental, and in the process share the cost of the journey, thus creating a hybrid between private vehicle use and mass or public transport. It is a transportation strategy that allows users to access transportation services on an as-needed basis. Shared mobility is an umbrella term that encompasses a variety of transportation modes including carsharing, Bicycle-sharing systems, ridesharing companies, carpools, and microtransit.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Zimride</span> American carpool program

Zimride by Enterprise Holdings was an American carpool program that matched inter-city drivers and passengers through social networking services. It was offered to universities and businesses as a matchmaking service. The company was founded in May 2007. After the launch of the Lyft app in May 2012 for intra-city rides, the Lyft app rapidly grew and became the focus of the company. Zimride officially renamed as Lyft in May 2013, and the Zimride service was sold to Enterprise Holdings in July 2013. As of July 2013, the service had over 350,000 users and had partnerships with Facebook and Zipcar.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Wingz (company)</span>

Wingz is a vehicle for hire company that provides private, scheduled, and fixed-price rides in 30 major cities across the United States via mobile app. The service provides rides anywhere in the cities it serves, with a focus on airports. Wingz offers the ability to request specific drivers for rides and allows users to build a list of their favorite drivers for future bookings.

Sidecar was a US-based vehicle for hire company that provided transportation and delivery services. It was founded in 2011 in San Francisco and closed on December 31, 2015.

Summon was a vehicle for hire company operating in portions of Silicon Valley. The company was shut down in November 2014.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Ridesharing company</span> Online vehicle for hire service

A ridesharing company is a company that, via websites and mobile apps, matches passengers with drivers of vehicles for hire that, unlike taxicabs, cannot legally be hailed from the street.

Many communities, governments, and organizations have established rules and regulations that specifically govern ridesharing companies. In some jurisdictions, for-profit ridesharing operations are completely illegal. Regulations can include requirements for driver background checks, fares, the number of drivers, and licensing.

A robotaxi, also known as robo-raxi, self-driving taxi or driverless taxi, is an autonomous car operated for a ridesharing company.

asterRIDE is a referral company that operates and markets transportation services on behalf of limousine and taxi operators across the cities where they operate. AsterRIDE markets their web platform and mobile app asterRIDE, which connects passengers with taxi drivers. As of June, 2015, asterRIDE was available in ten U.S. cities and growing: Chicago, Everett, Fort Lauderdale, Los Angeles, Miami, Naples, Orlando, Phoenix, San Diego, San Francisco, Seattle, and West Palm Beach. According to a release on their website, Las Vegas, New York City, Houston, and Philadelphia were to be added.

Rideshare advertising is a form of digital, out-of-home advertising that uses in-car advertisements in ridesharing vehicles.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Scoot Networks</span>

Scoot Networks, also known as just Scoot or Scoot Rides, is an American company which provides public electric scooter and electric bicycle sharing systems. The company is based in San Francisco, California.

California Assembly Bill 5 or AB 5 is a state statute that expands a landmark Supreme Court of California case from 2018, Dynamex Operations West, Inc. v. Superior Court ("Dynamex"). In that case, the court held that most wage-earning workers are employees and ought to be classified as such, and that the burden of proof for classifying individuals as independent contractors belongs to the hiring entity. AB 5 extends that decision to all workers. It entitles them to be classified as employees with the usual labor protections, such as minimum wage laws, sick leave, and unemployment and workers' compensation benefits, which do not apply to independent contractors. Concerns over employee misclassification, especially in the gig economy, drove support for the bill, but it remains divisive.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Revel Transit</span> Electric moped sharing company

Revel is a dockless electric moped sharing startup based in New York City. Founded in 2018 by Frank Reig and Paul Suhey, it first started with a small pilot program in New York, later growing its fleet size in New York and expanding into Washington, D.C.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">2020 California Proposition 22</span> Gig economy workers employment status ballot initiative

Proposition 22 was a ballot initiative in California on the November 2020 state election which passed with 59% of the vote and granted app-based transportation and delivery companies an exception to Assembly Bill 5 by classifying their drivers as "independent contractors", rather than "employees", thereby exempting employers from providing the full suite of mandated employee benefits while instead giving drivers new protections of:

Rideshare Drivers United is a lobbying group that advocates for the interests of rideshare drivers in California.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Homobiles</span> American rideshare organization

Homobiles is an American nonprofit organization founded in 2011 which provides rides primarily to the San Francisco LGBT community on a pay-what-you-can model. Lynn Breedlove founded the organization as an alternative to taxi services and public transportation in order to counter discrimination against drag queens, transgender riders, and other members of the LGBT community. Rides are arranged through phone call, text message, or mobile application similar to other transportation network (ridesharing) companies.


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