Unhappy with the company’s policies, Uber drivers across several cities are protesting Wednesday.
In some areas, Uber drivers are protesting outside the company’s offices. In other cities, like New York, they’re shutting off their phones provided to them by Uber and refusing to pick up customers.
But why bother protesting at all? Why not just quit and work for another company like Lyft or Gett?
“There are a number of reasons,” Joseph De Wolf Sandoval, the president of the recently formed nonprofit group California App-Based Drivers Association (CADA), tells Business Insider. CADA helped coordinate Wednesday’s protests, along with cooperation from Teamsters Local 986 (a Southern California-based union), and groups like Uber Drivers Network NYC, which have recently appeared on social media to represent unhappy Uber drivers.
Drivers are too invested to quit.
“I get that a lot — why don’t you do something else? Why don’t you just quit?” De Wolf Sandoval says.
“One reason is that a lot of people have invested a lot of money into their fleet, or into their cars to work on the Uber system, with the implied promise from Uber that they were going to be doing very well — they’d be running their own small business and they’d be able to recoup the investments, whether that’s an investment in a Chevy Suburban at $US40,000, or maybe two — or 10, if you own a fleet,”
De Wolf Sandoval says many drivers are totally invested in Uber at this point: They have financed vehicles and changed their fleet to run in accordance with Uber’s standards for cars, and they can’t simply walk away now. “
At this point many people are essentially all in,” De Wolf Sandoval says. “They’d be walking away from a major investment.”
Drivers feel they have no alternative.
A number of drivers say they simply don’t have another career to turn to, and don’t have the skills to find another job. “For some people, it’s this or nothing. It’s this or homelessness,” De Wolf Sandoval says.
“Uber is now doing a big push to get Iraq and Afghanistan veterans to get on board and start driving for Uber. But from CADA’s perspective, this may, in fact, be a disservice to a lot of people that are getting pulled into a system. These veterans may not have another alternative.”
For some, it’s a matter of principle.
“There are some people, myself included, that feel it’s important to stand up for what they think is right. Yeah, I could quit. I could go do a number of things. But I simply don’t want to walk away from people who may not have the same skills that I do to try to make change,” De Wolf Sandoval says. “So for me it’s a personal battle.”
Jesus Garay, a member of Uber Drivers Network NYC, says the easiest solution would be to stay with one company and work for them, “but this is more than that,” he says.
“The goal and the aspirations of people like us, the Uber Drivers Network, is to be able to fight for something that’s really cause worthy,” Garay says. “We believe in what we’re doing. Believing is the easiest thing to do; finding another job is like burying your head in the sand.”
But some drivers may eventually leave Uber after all.
Abdoulrahime Diallo, one of the leaders of the Uber Drivers Network NYC group, cited a recent hearing of New York City’s Taxi & Limousine Commission (TLC), which recently postponed a
If the proposed rules go through, companies like Uber and Lyft won’t be able to dispatch their drivers from bases the drivers aren’t affiliated with (unless the two companies come up with some sort of agreement). Simply put, drivers won’t be able to drive for Uber, Lyft, taxis, and black car fleets anymore; they will have to align themselves with just one company, and stick with that company.
Uber and Lyft are opposed to the new rules, and old-school cabs and fleet services support it.
“Right now, the TLC is open, so you can work with multiple bases,” Diallo tells Business Insider. “A lot of drivers who may be working with Uber are also still working for other companies at the same time. At the end of the day, if the rules go through and Uber cannot fix things, then drivers will leave eventually. And most people are just waiting on the TLC to vote. If that goes into effect, Uber will see major changes. There’s no way you will stay with Uber if you want to make ends meet. So either Uber will fix things, or drivers will leave.”