Local

Here’s why rideshare drivers caravanned through Boston in protest

Protesters say app companies are making record profits while they are struggling to make ends meet.

Uber and Lyft drivers raised their fists in solidarity as they posed for a group photo together before caravanning from Allston to the State House to demand legislative action to improve their jobs Wednesday afternoon. (Jessica Rinaldi/Globe Staff)

Massachusetts rideshare and food delivery drivers caravanned through the streets of Boston Wednesday afternoon, calling on lawmakers to take action and force app companies to give drivers fair wages and benefits.

According to a news release from the Massachusetts Independent Drivers Guild, a coalition of rideshare and delivery drivers responsible for organizing the protest, the drivers honked and chanted as they drove from Allston to the State House with signs on their cars that said things like “Uber profits, drivers suffer!”

“Legislative action must be taken to improve the lives and working conditions of rideshare and delivery workers,” the release said.

Olufemi Oladele, a driver with Uber and Lyft, raised his fist in solidarity as he and other drivers posed for a group photo together before caravanning from Allston to the State House to demand legislative action to improve their jobs Wednesday afternoon. – (Jessica Rinaldi/Globe Staff)

This month, Uber announced a record revenue of $8.1 billion for the second fiscal quarter of 2022, beating estimates by almost $1 billion. Meanwhile, the release said, the company’s drivers are facing poverty.

Advertisement:

But the problem isn’t unique to Uber. The caravan also included drivers who work for Lyft, DoorDash, and Grubhub.

“We are hardly making ends meet while Uber and Lyft are making billions. It’s just not right. I’m currently juggling my bills to try and keep up,” Uber driver Omar Cruz said.

“If these companies want to keep us on the road, we need more money to survive.”

Larbi Aitaabou, an Uber and Lyft driver from New York who came down to support the Massachusetts drivers demanding legislative action to improve their jobs, attached a sign in Arabic to his car that translates to, “We are asking to have a union. We are asking for Justice, Respect, Fair Pay.” – (Jessica Rinaldi/Globe Staff)

In a statement to Boston.com, Lyft said the company has systems in place to get feedback from drivers.

“From day one, Lyft has known it is critically important to invest in our driver community and create compelling opportunities for them to use our network,” the statement read. “We regularly ask for and listen to driver feedback through our Driver Advisory Council and through one-on-one relationship building. We use those insights to improve the overall driver experience and better advocate for the issues that matter most to them.”

DoorDash also responded to the protest.

“We regularly receive feedback from Dashers in Massachusetts that the flexibility to work as much or as little as they want, schedule their work around their lives, and be there for loved ones is what drives them to do this work,” the company said in a statement to Boston.com. “We’re committed to listening to Dashers as we seek solutions that reflect their unique needs: policies that strengthen flexible earning opportunities by protecting independence and extending access to benefits.”

Advertisement:

Uber and Grubhub were not immediately available for comment.

Michele Dottin, an Uber and Lyft driver, came from New York to support Massachusetts drivers as they caravanned to the State House to demand legislative action to improve their jobs Wednesday afternoon. – (Jessica Rinaldi/Globe Staff)
Local

According to a June report from the Economic Policy Institute, nearly a third of app workers were unable to pay their utility bills in full from their earnings, and one in five app workers are facing food insecurity.

“Rideshare workers are currently among the least protected workforce in Massachusetts,” the release said.

Even so, a 2021 study by BW Research found that Massachusetts rideshare and delivery drivers made about $26 per hour on average.

Mass IDG said in the release that the drivers are looking to unionize in the hopes that it will allow them to have a voice when determining their pay and benefits.

“We need a union to hold Uber accountable and negotiate higher pay for us drivers who are doing all the work, and taking all the risks!” Uber Eats driver Kevin Murphy said in the release.

Conversation

This discussion has ended. Please join elsewhere on Boston.com