Uber Drivers Network NYC, a group of disgruntled Uber drivers, is protesting against Uber.
It started on Thursday, and continued through Friday afternoon, and is slated to pick back up on Monday. We first caught wind of the Uber driver collective on Buzzfeed.
“This is the only solution we believe will make Uber rethink their actions,” according to a message on Uber Drivers Network NYC’s Facebook page, the group’s main form of communication. The group urged drivers via Facebook to shut off their phones and not drive for Uber.
The main group of drivers who are protesting seem to be Uber’s Black Car and SUV drivers, who have been forced to accept less-lucrative Uber X and Uber XL customers.
The difference between the two groups of Uber cars is that Uber X and Uber XL drivers drive their own cars and are the more “standard” (read: affordable) option for Uber customers. Uber Black Car and Uber SUV are the “premium,” more expensive options. A summer promotion has also taken a chunk out of Uber drivers’ pay, and the drivers aren’t happy about it.
If a driver decides not to pick up an Uber X customer, “They give us a 24 hour suspension and threaten that you will lose your chance with Uber,” a driver who spoke to BuzzFeed said. “To get a ride for $US8.00, I’ll have to work the whole day. Gas and insurance for SUV’s are expensive. I have to pay $US80 to $US100 a day in gas.”
Some of the drivers in the Uber Drivers Network NYC group have also threatened to ditch Uber for competitor Lyft.
On Friday morning, NYC Uber reached out to its drivers. A number of members of the Uber Drivers Network NYC Facebook group started posting screenshots of messages and emails Uber sent them, letting them know the company immediately planned to discontinue its policy of making Uber Black Car and SUV drivers pick up Uber X and Uber XL customers.
Business Insider obtained a copy of the email, titled “Choose When and Where to Receive uberX Requests.” The email reads:
On September 1st, we instituted a change that allowed all BLACK and SUV drivers to receive uberX and uberXL trip requests. After two weeks the results are clear: UberBLACK and UberSUV partners made more money than ever before. Black car partners are now grossing over $US50/hr and SUV partners are grossing nearly $US60/hr.
Over the last week, we met with partners individually to discuss this change. Many told us how much they value uberX trip requests, which enable them to get a faster return trip from an airport, find a trip back to Manhattan from the outer boroughs, minimize downtime between trips during off peak times, and most importantly, earn more money per hour.
We also heard about times when partners would prefer to have the ability to choose only Black and SUV trips. As our hourly guarantee ends tonight, we’re taking the next step forward. Effective immediately, UberBLACK and UberSUV partners can choose when and where to receive uberX requests. To learn how, see details at the bottom of this email.
Our goal is for Uber to be the best financial opportunity and to ensure that you continue to have the freedom and flexibility that the Uber platform offers. If you’d like to discuss this or any other issue in person with an operations manager, please sign up for an appointment here: http://t.uber.com/sched
Naturally, Uber drivers in the group were ecstatic.
One of their demands had been met. But the group of drivers, who had planned to meet on Friday afternoon at Queens’ Forest Park to strategize, weren’t done; they still had a protest to plan for Monday.
Some of the drivers in the Facebook group printed out fliers and gave them to SUVs with TLC licence plates to get them to join the protest.
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