March 1, 2016
By Joe Maniscalco
New York, NY – Despite of storm of criticism and job actions against the company, ride share giant Uber is touting its latest round of rate cuts as a boon for drivers.
On Thursday, Uber released figures indicating increased demand for its services in New York City, following a 15 percent rate cut that immediately sparked a three-day strike in January, as well as a subsequent rally in front of City Hall a few weeks later.
Uber maintains that the increased demand for rides means more work for drivers — and that since the latest rate cuts, “drivers have been working less and earning more.”
One driver identified as “Amos” from Staten Island is quoted on the Uber website saying, “I’m working more because I’m busier—and sometimes it feels like I’m hitting my daily goal in fewer hours.”
Another driver called “Joel” from Brooklyn, is quoted saying, "I can make my weekly goal in less days now.”
But that’s not what Uber drivers that LaborPress spoke to on Monday are saying.
Anwar Bhatti, 48, has been an Uber driver for nearly four years. The married father of three says that earning a living has become a “big-time struggle” since Uber reduced rates.
“I’m really suffering right now,” Bhatti said. “I used to be able to earn $250 to $300 [a day]. And now, I sometimes make less than $100. On a good day, $175 — that’s it.”
Bruce Lopez, 50, says that he was making pretty good money driving for Uber when he started working for the multi-national company two years ago, but not anymore.
“Now, I’m working longer hours to make the same money or less,” Lopez said. “So, I don’t know how the rate cut benefitted anyone.”
In January, LaborPress reported the need for drowsy drivers to take power naps during long shifts. Bhatti, however, says that with reduced rates, drivers like him can’t even afford to take bathroom breaks.
“I don’t have a break,” he said. “I can’t even go to the bathroom because if you go to the bathroom, you can’t make money.”
Uber aggressively seeks new drivers all the time and has successfully fought the City of New York from putting tighter controls on its business model. Lopez, however, says that the company engages in “churn and burn” hiring practices.
“Basically, as many drivers join, just as many quit,” Lopez said.
Uber claims that since the rate cut, uberX drivers are spending 12 fewer minutes on the road each day, while earning 17 percent more an hour.
Lopez calls Uber the most “arrogant company” he’s ever seen, and says that “90 percent of the company’s problem with drivers would disappear if it restored the rate cut and allow tipping.
“Drivers have always gotten tips,” Lopez said. “This is a customer service industry. Since there have been cars, it's always been that drivers get tips.”
District 15 of the Machinists Union, International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, and the NY Taxi Workers’ Alliance are actively working to organize Uber drivers throughout the metropolitan area.