Can Uber and Lyft survive strike?

Can Uber and Lyft survive strike?

It appears that the gig economy is about to face a major milestone in its relatively short history. While some cities and taxi unions have opposed the invasion of ridesharing services like Uber and Lyft, now it’s the ridesharing drivers themselves that are fighting back against the companies. On May 8th, Uber is set to issue its IPO. Some estimates put Uber’s valuation at between $80 billion and $90 billion. Meanwhile, many of their drivers earn less than minimum wage and plan to do something about it.

On the same day that Uber goes public many Lyft and Uber drivers plan to go on strike for 24 hours in eight cities. Those cities are Boston, San Francisco, Chicago, Los Angeles, San Diego, Minneapolis, Philadelphia, and Washington DC. These are all major cities that depend a lot on not only public transportation but also ridesharing services. Even just for one day, the strike has the potential to put a very inconvenient dent in a lot of people’s commute. This could get a lot of support for Uber and Lyft drivers.

The drivers are demanding

  • higher wages
  • clearer policies on wages, tips, how fares are shared and disciplinary action
  • employee benefits such as health care, disability payments and holiday pay
  • recognition and representation for drivers in Uber’s management structure

It will be interesting to see how Uber and Lyft react not only to the announcement of the strike but the strike itself. One of the problems with the current economy is that employees in most industries have fewer protections than there have been in the past. This makes the gig economy attractive to many looking to supplement their current income. That means that there are scores of people looking to replace the striking Uber and Lyft drivers if those companies decide to retaliate. While it would be a major PR disaster for those companies, they’ve become such a convenience that it may blow over.