Some UberX drivers in Seattle are no longer working for Uber as a way to protest how they’ve been treated by the transportation company.
About 100 drivers from a new group called Seattle Ride-Share Drivers Association gathered Wednesday to show their frustration with a recent price reduction Uber has implemented.
Back in June, Uber lowered prices for UberX customers by 20 percent. For two months, the company continued paying its drivers — who earn 80 percent of each fare — as if the discount had not been implemented.
But earlier this month, Uber shifted the discount over to drivers, who are now making less money per ride.
“All drivers of the association believe in Uber and want the company to succeed and continue to offer a valuable service to the public,” the association wrote in a statement this week. “The Association is concerned that this will not happen unless Uber pays their drivers what they were originally paid.”
In a statement, Uber Seattle General Manager Brooke Steger said that even though UberX drivers are making less money per ride, they are earning more total income than ever:
Uber’s goal is to ensure strong driver partner earnings and offer the best value to riders. From the summer promotion, we have learned that a 20 percent price cut will keep demand at record levels, with driver earnings equal or higher than May peaks. We have seen similar effects in other cities where lower rates increase trips and increase driver earnings. Drivers are making MORE money now due to demand than they did before the price cut. Uber partner drivers have a direct line into the Uber team and we will continue to work with them individually to ensure their small businesses thrive.
The Seattle Ride-Share Drivers Association, which has 500 members, said Uber’s claim that its drivers are making more overall income is “unfounded.” It noted how some drivers, when expenses are accounted for, are actually now losing money when accepting a ride.
“No sensible person would stop working if he or she is making more money,” association board member Jamal Ahmed told GeekWire.
Uber has been slashing rates for several months as it continues to engage in a price war with companies like Lyft and Sidecar. The San Francisco-based company, which has raised $1.5 billion and is now in 205 cities worldwide, made headlines earlier this week for its questionable recruiting tactics in what was yet another example of how competitive this relatively new transportation market has become.
The association plans to continue reaching more UberX drivers.
“This will not stop until we have reached out to every driver out there, or Uber agrees to meet with us as partners,” Ahmed said. “All they have done is ignore every request for dialogue.”
However, having 100 drivers off the UberX system likely won’t cause any change in service for users in Seattle, where there are well over 1,000 UberX drivers.