SAN FRANCISCO—Taxi drivers protested at Uber Headquarters on June 22 amidst the 83rd Annual United States Conference of Mayors.
With the conference being sponsored by Uber and Lyft this year, protesters congregated at the head office. The rise of start-ups like Uber and Lyft has left many taxi drivers struggling for work twice, and many complaining about Uber and Lyft stealing their customers.
According to these protesters, Uber does not have to regulate under the same rules as other cab companies do. They claim that their drivers are hired contractors not employees, eliminating the expenses of providing medical insurance, driver’s insurance, and other benefits.
A San Francisco driver, Barbara Ann Berwick, sued Uber for expenses she endured while driving. On June 16, the California Labor Commission ruled that because Uber is “involved in every aspect of the operation,” Barbara is an employee, and so the commission sided with her.
There is currently a class action suit against Uber led by lawyer Shannon Liss Riordan. Her goal is to get Uber drivers in California to be recognized as employees. This will provide them with benefits and the protection that employees are entitled to under law.
Uber’s net worth is around $40 billion, but if Uber became a full-fledged company the cost to operate would rise.
Uber spokesperson Eva Behrend said that mayors support these cab hailing apps. She says they have the benefit of being affordable and they increase access of cabs in underserved areas. They have also reduced DUIs.
With the protesters present, authorities were forced to direct the mayors into the Uber offices for a tour.
The United States Conference of Mayors is held twice a year, once in the winter in Washington D.C. and once in June in a different city each year. This is a nonpartisan organization that allows hundreds of mayors to meet and discuss political topics. President Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton attended this years conference in San Francisco.