Early into the second day of a group of Uber drivers' work "strike," Uber sent out an email indicating that it was meeting one of the group's demands: Drivers of premium cars — either black cars or SUVs — could now opt out of receiving less lucrative Uber X requests.
As BuzzFeed News reported yesterday, the Uber Drivers Network of NYC — a group made up primarily of SUV and black car drivers — were fed up with either being penalized with a temporary suspension for not accepting Uber X requests or attempting to appease the company and accepting so many Uber X requests (at least 90% of all requests) that they did not have time to pick up passengers requesting a black car or an SUV.
The company rolled out this program for premium drivers to opt into receive requests for Uber X rides earlier this summer but only made it mandatory for all drivers, whether or not they opted in, earlier this month. In the email drivers received today, Uber wrote that the company was returning to its "opt in" policy where drivers could choose to receive Uber X requests.
However, drivers still have unaddressed complaints, namely the summer discount that pegs Uber X rates below that of yellow cabs and other taxis. It's an issue specific to New York City where the company has driven up demand for Uber X rides with its decrease in Uber X rates.
"We only won half of it," Uber X driver Masood Rehman told BuzzFeed News. "When the Uber X discount pricing first started, it was temporary, just for the summer, but the summer is pretty much over now. They are the same rate even if we drive upstate, New Jersey, or Long Island. This is where we go the most, and every other company, when they cross the New York City limits, the rate prices go double. But the company does not lower their commission."
Additionally, Uber drivers don't receive tips, making the decreased fare that much more difficult to make a living on, Rehman said.
"Uber says tip is included in the fare. When it's 20% lower than a yellow cab, how is tip included in the fare?" he asked.
When BuzzFeed News reached out to Uber for comment on whether the company plans on returning the fare price to its pre-summer rate, a spokesperson said, "Lowering prices brings greater efficiency by connecting more riders to drivers, more trips per hour, lower pickup times and increasing earning potential for drivers."
And so the strike continues. Though the group's Facebook page has seen a slew of positive comments claiming victory, the group organizers still plan to hold a meeting for drivers today and have encouraged drivers to continue to be on strike until after they speak with the drivers at said meeting.
Johana Bhuiyan is a tech reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York. Bhuiyan reports on the sharing economy with a focus on ridesharing companies.
Contact Johana Bhuiyan at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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