While driving two tourists from England to Universal Studios on Monday, Hirschmann asked, "Are you aware that Uber and Lyft drivers are going to be protesting?" "Most of the things they're striking for, we already have in NY", says Brendan Sexton, executive director of the Independent Drivers Guild, a nonprofit that helped push for the minimum pay legislation in NY.
Organizers, who also planned strikes in Boston, Washington DC and Chicago on Wednesday morning, as well as Los Angeles and San Diego, Calif., had claimed that protesters would be holding banners and leafleting at the Queens entrance of the 59th Street Bridge.
"Stand with these workers on strike today, across the United Kingdom and the world", said Jeremy Corbyn, the leader of Britain's opposition Labour Party.
While the driver strike could hurt Lyft's and Uber's business operations for many days, it also raises investor concerns about the risks in the ridesharing business model that both of these companies follow. And in New York City, there is a two-hour strike planned from 7 am ET to 9 am ET, which are busy commuting hours. They'll supercharge their profitability and the drivers will have no leverage at all.
Sexton believes the push for localized pay rules could start to spread beyond New York City.
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The movement is decentralized, with drivers' groups in different cities organizing strikes and protests.
"The first globally coordinated day of action against Uber is to send a loud and clear message that drivers have had enough", Uber driver Rebecca Stack told Gizmodo.
He told Al Jazeera that last week many drivers received a three to six percent cut in the mileage and time pay rate. And there's been a lot of tinkering around the edges on the part of ride-hailing companies, lately, to try to make things better for drivers.
Other cities are expected to join the protests in the coming hours.
When the ride-sharing service first went live, it was heralded as the future of work - shifts could be flexibly fit in around other jobs, and drivers, so the story went, were empowered to take their hours into their own hands.
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Revenues almost doubled in the quarter ended in March but Lyft forecast growth would slow in its first results as a public company. "Whether it's more consistent earnings, stronger insurance protections or fully funded four- year degrees for drivers or their families, we'll continue working to improve the experience for and with drivers".
"This is an act of solidarity with drivers across the country, and really across the world, who are suffering with poverty wages", said NYTWA executive director Bhairavi Desai. The company, however, cites another study, whose authors included current and former Uber employees, that found drivers made on average $21 an hour.
She said companies like Uber and Lyft classify drivers as independent contractors because it's 20% to 30% cheaper than hiring them as employees and having to provide benefits, pay overtime and follow minimum wage laws. "They have grown and grown and gotten richer and richer, but I haven't grown with the company".
One bill now moving through the California state legislature, AB 5, would push companies to stop treating drivers as independent contractors.
The group Gig Workers Rising promised to picket Uber's headquarters at noon on Wednesday and follow the demonstration with a 12-hour boycott.
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"Uber (and Lyft) will use some of the proceeds from the IPO will go towards the development of autonomous vehicles". Many drivers took loans to buy cabs, while some leased cars from the companies themselves.