The trouble started early this month when Uber users nationwide began deleting the ride sharing app with the #deleteUber campaign. The hashtag made social media rounds after users learned that the company defied a taxi strike at New York's JFK Airport in protest of President Trump's immigration ban (Individual drivers had the choice to join the taxi strikers.) Things got worse when users also learned that Uber CEO Travis Kalanick was part of President Trump’s business advisory council.
Kalanick later released a series of steps the company was taking to protect drivers impacted by the ban which has since been suspended by federal court. Uber did not release estimates of how many users deleted the app, but for a period of time whenever a customer tried to delete, they received a message stating that the company opposed Trump's immigration/travel ban.
But Uber's global troubles were just beginning. On Friday, drivers in New Delhi went on strike to protest paltry wages and working conditions. Local press featured stories of drivers who are no longer able to support their families or meet financial obligations because of a decline in wages . One driver, M Praveen Kumar, died after allegedly consuming poison because he couldn't pay the monthly installment on a bank loan. His death reportedly sparked the current protests.
The drivers want the company to reinstate the bonuses paid out in the initial days, reduce their hiked commission rates, limit the number of cabs registered on the app and shorten working hours.
Today , hundreds of Uber drivers in Qatar went on strike with similar complaints . The company began operations there in 2014 and has since cut fares by 15 to 20 percent for passengers due to increased competition. This is the second time this year Qatari drivers have gone on strike.
Uber has seen these types of protests from drivers in the U.S. as well including a national protest last fall in 12 cities nationwide.
Atlanta was not one of those cities, but drivers in the metro-area share many of the same concerns as Uber drivers around the world. Many have expressed their ongoing frustrations in an independent forum for rideshare drivers, UberPeople.net .
Their comments would indicate that little has changed despite driver efforts in recent months.
One of the most commented on posts in the forum is titled, "Is anyone in Atlanta making decent money?"
A new driver posted this screenshot of weekly earnings and asked the forum if it was slave labor when you deduct $100 for gas.
Fellow drivers weighed in with feedback noting that the per hour wage came to about $7.33 which is better pay than some jobs...but maybe not worth it if you value your time. Another driver estimated his/her per hour fees as low as $4.70.
Other Atlanta Uber drivers expressed dismay at the state of airport pickups from Hartsfield-Jackson. Previously, Uber drivers could make decent fares with airport drop-offs, but pickups from the airport were banned. In January, a new system allowed for Uber pickups at the airport (with a $3.85 per passenger surcharge.)
But trying to score a pickup fare at Hartsfield-Jackson, can be tough going. One Uber driver noted being the 253 car at the airport waiting for pickup. A driver who was car number 287 claimed to have waited two hours for a pickup and made $6.40 for the trouble.
Part of the problem in Atlanta said some drivers is the number of drivers on the road. More drivers than passengers means fewer surge fares, one way that drivers seek to boost their earnings.
Atlanta drivers who felt they were making good money suggested taking the time to learn the metro area, identify surge times, accept pickups near and far, avoid Uber Pool (the option which allows for multiple pickups on one fare) and do airport runs.
Driving for Uber is certainly not a get rich quick scheme, said some drivers and is best navigated by the drivers who take the time to learn the system. As one driver noted, "Uber is a lifestyle, not a job."