Modern Times – Social Commentary
By Scott “The Unlicensed Taxi Driver”
Relax with the #DeleteUber!
Of late, there has been plenty of criticism for Uber related to an hour-long taxicab “strike” at JFK in the City last weekend. As a rideshare driver I think this criticism is misguided. Let me make a couple points to offset and stay the criticism.
How many of you feel that this “strike” was coordinated by the cab drivers unions with any of the Big Apple’s rideshare companies or even any of their drivers? Any reports as such? None that I’ve been able to find using “the Google” or other searches of Internet content. Cab drivers, the cab driver’s union, and cab companies in general HATE Uber and Lyft, for that matter. If you take cabs, ask your next driver what he thinks of Lyft and/or Uber. Truth is the rideshare drivers I know don’t care much for cab drivers.
So let’s not make this strike out to be some olive branch of solidarity and Uber flipped the “strikers” the bird. Not what happened folks.
For all we know, the “bad press” received by Uber might have been an intended consequence of the cab drivers action. They don’t like rideshare – that has been well reported.
Uber and Lyft took respective actions, Uber suspending surge pricing, Lyft offering a substantial donation to the American Civil Liberties Union (ALCU) and Uber subsequently announcing a legal defense and support fund for drivers impacted by the controversial ban on entry into our country from the designated 6 predominantly Muslim countries. Further, Uber is paying drivers impacted by the travel ban into our country. It’s not a fact or statistically based comment I make, but that said, first generation immigrants are a significant component in the rideshare driving industry. Sorry I have no supportive statistics but my personal experiences, activity in driver “chats” and information from my riders that tell me this is so.
I for one think it is beautiful that Uber is supporting their drivers, from subsidizing them and helping pay the rent, but also addressing any legal issues. I further commend Lyft for donating to the ALCU.
Here’s the real deal and some perspective: both Lyft and Uber must tread lightly in situations such as this due to their long running business strategy to operate as a payment/service delivery platform and not as an EMPLOYER. An employer can dictate to employees that they need not show up for work on a given day due to weather conditions, power outages, national emergency or a symbolic 1 hour strike implemented at a specific airport. Rideshare companies (I pluralize as Lyft didn’t suspend operations either) must use caution and separate themselves from the decision-making process of their independent drivers as to their ability to drive. Tell your drivers they cannot take fares for said period of time and the Lyfts/Ubers of the world take one step closer to the employer-employee relationship they have avoided to this point in time.
Let me give you some other perspective as a driver: without a coordinated and communicated effort to “strike”, any airport let alone an airport with the traffic of JFK; how are driver’s supposed to know? Let me tell you when I’m driving I’m not connected to my phone for information in the normal sense. 1) I’m driving and 2) I have my rideshare platform(s) “App” on to receive my riders. How, as a driver, am I supposed to know about an hour-long strike? How was Uber to know initially? Are they to trust the cab drivers union, even if they did know about the strike?
Give me a break people. Give Uber a break. If Uber were to go away I could drive for Lyft, so Uber’s well being isn’t my issue here. It’s about engaging in fair and informed thought.
So had I crossed that “picket line” without knowledge of the event, would I be perceived as racist, or anti-Muslim? My guess is that I would, at least some would imply that on Twitter or wherever. I know a guy who drives UberBlack – a naturalized citizen originally from the Ivory Coast. He’s Muslim and drives professionally, i.e. full-time. What if he decided to “cross” the “picket line” at a fictitious strike at our local airport? Would that make him anti-Muslim?
Let’s all just take a deep breath; CEO Travis Kalanick isn’t a villain here. He cut profits by eliminating surge pricing during the protest. Trust me he loves those surge prices as much as the drivers do and the riders hate them. Lyft also continued to operate at JFK and I’ve seen no place that showed them making price concessions during the strike. Uber’s CEO had previously taken some heat for being a Trump “advisor.” Mr Kalanick’s ability to be a presidential adviser doesn’t make him the author of a discriminatory immigration policy. His Facebook and Twitter social media accounts provide his intentions of advising
Mr. Trump regarding the impact drivers have suffered.
Any “picket line busting” rideshare drivers aren’t the villains either. Just guys and gals trying to put food on their table that likely had no clue as to the details of the cabbie strike.
Delete. Undelete. Go back to expensive cabs. Just take a moment and give it some thought.
-Scott “The Unlicensed Taxi Driver”
-As an aside, with advanced knowledge I wouldn’t have driven to or taken JFK fares during the strike. I would have recommended my entire rideshare driver friends to do the same. I commend the cab drivers and their union for organizing and making a statement (regardless if they had other underlying intentions or not.)
(The Wine Vault is not responsible for the content of Modern Times – Social Commentary by Scott “The Unlicensed Taxi Driver”, except when he is correct (rarely). If he is correct and you disagree, please send an email to someone who agrees with you :). For the record he is correct in this particular article, I know, I was shocked as well…)
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