By Jack Barnes
Drivers Say “Uber Can Do Better”
Uber Drivers Call on CEO to Quit Trump Council, Support Refugees & Workers
On behalf of New York City’s nearly 50,000 drivers, the Independent Drivers Guild says “Uber can do Better” and is launching a petition calling on Uber’s CEO Travis Kalanick to immediately step down from President Trump’s advisory council in protest over his immigration and muslim travel ban. The petition also calls on Uber to contribute to non-profit organizations fighting the ban and supporting refugees; to state publicly that drivers will not be penalized for acting in protest of the immigration ban; and to support Uber’s immigrant worker drivers by offering the option of in-app tipping.
“There would be no Uber without immigrants. Nine in ten Uber drivers in New York City are immigrants. We are a city of immigrants in a nation of immigrants. As a company whose success is built on a foundation of hard work by immigrant workers, Uber can and should do better to stand up for immigrants and their workers,” said IDG founder Jim Conigliaro, Jr. “As a show of solidarity with the thousands of immigrants who helped build this company, we are calling on Uber’s CEO Travis Kalanick to immediately step down from President Trump’s advisory council in protest of his immigration and muslim travel ban.”
The Guild surveyed drivers and a majority of drivers oppose the ban and believe Kalanick should step down from Trump’s advisory council. Drivers also called on Uber to state publicly that drivers would not be penalized for acting in protest of the immigration ban (such as rejecting pick ups at international airports). What’s more, nearly 90 percent of drivers said the ban will directly affect them, a friend, or family member.
One such driver is Ibrahim Ali, who came to the United States from Sudan.
“I came to this country as a refugee to make a better life for myself and my family. My parents are back home in Sudan and I support them with my earnings from driving, ” said Brooklyn-based driver Ibrahim Ali. “The ban means I cannot visit my parents and they cannot travel to the United States to see us or to receive advanced medical care. For families like mine, every dollar goes towards either my brother’s education here in the US or to support my family abroad.”
“Nine in ten of us are immigrants and many of us are sending money back to our families and trying to bring family over out of horrible conditions. That’s why it’s a bit more complicated than ‘delete Uber’,” said Ibraheem Ibraheem, also of Brooklyn, NY. “Uber must do better, but at least they meet with us when no one else will. Lyft just cut driver pay, they refuse to meet with us and their investor is a big Trump donor and advisor, so they are not better. Neither is the taxi industry.”
“If Mr. Kalanick truly wishes to stand up for immigrants and refugees, he must quit President Trump’s council and put his money where his mouth is by supporting refugees and making it easier for his thousands of immigrant drivers to earn a fair living,” added Ibraheem, who left Sudan in 1996. “This ban is devastating families who only want means to survive, an opportunity for a better life. Two of my cousins in Sudan are affected by the ban. One of my cousins is a green card holder and U.S. resident who went to visit his family and I do not know if he will be able to return. Another cousin was lucky to be among those selected for the diversity visa lottery program, so the next step for him would be an interview at the US embassy in Sudan and we’re not sure if he will get that interview and be able to leave Sudan.”
Anger at Uber has been building over time. It is not just the company’s actions of the last week that led to the current backlash. That’s why it is also critical that Uber show its commitment to workers by giving them their number one request: an option for tipping in the app. Taxis have it, other ridesharing apps have it, it is long past time that Uber include it.
Tipping provides a significant source of income for drivers, but Uber’s refusal to allow in-app tipping has drastically reduced tipping and has led to customer confusion. The Guild launched a tipping campaign last year as its first major initiative after forming in May, including an online petition, “tips for service are appreciated” stickers, social media advertising, and distribution of flyers and bar napkins.
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