Ocasio-Cortez throws weight behind Uber, Lyft strike

Ocasio-Cortez throws weight behind Uber, Lyft strike
© Getty

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-CortezAlexandria Ocasio-CortezOcasio-Cortez reveals new policies for campaign aides with children Kennedy launches primary challenge against Markey The Memo: 'Whistleblower' furor gains steam MORE (D-N.Y.) is throwing her weight behind the Wednesday strike from Uber and Lyft drivers.

The New York progressive tweeted support for the strike to her more than 4 million followers, writing, "Your Direct Action for today: Don’t take an Uber or Lyft just for the day. (Just today! Cabs are fine! You can do it!)"

ADVERTISEMENT

Drivers from big ride-hailing firms such as Lyft and Uber, as well as smaller companies like Juno, are striking on Wednesday over what they say are unfair working conditions and a lack of transparency from their employers over how much they're paid. 

The drivers are calling for better wages, more benefits and clarity about how apps calculate their wages.

Drivers in 10 cities across the country are participating in the strike by turning off the app and encouraging riders to use public transportation instead. 

Sens. Bernie SandersBernie SandersWarren overtakes Biden in Iowa for first time: poll The polls are asking the wrong question Sanders unveils plan to eliminate Americans' medical debt MORE (I-Vt.) and Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenWarren overtakes Biden in Iowa for first time: poll Warren avoids attacks while building momentum Sanders unveils plan to eliminate Americans' medical debt MORE (D-Mass.), both 2020 contenders with labor-oriented platforms, have also come out in support of the strike. 

"I stand with striking Uber and Lyft drivers today," Sanders said. "The greed has got to end." He noted that Uber paid its top five executives a total of $143 million in compensation, including $45 million to its CEO last year.

Sanders last Congress introduced legislation that would have expanded the benefits offered to gig economy workers, such as Uber and Lyft drivers. The legislation, which has garnered support from most top Democratic presidential candidates in the Senate, would label the workers as "employees" rather than "independent contractors," allowing them to unionize and access a wider range of benefits.  

Those participating in the strike on Wednesday are appealing directly to legislators across the country, including at the federal level, asking them to extend fair labor protections to gig economy workers.  

Lyft in a statement said its drivers' hourly earnings have increased by 7 percent over the past two years. It argued that, on average, Lyft drivers "drive less than 10 hours a week to supplement existing jobs."

"Drivers are at the heart of our service — we can’t succeed without them — and thousands of people come into work at Uber every day focused on how to make their experience better, on and off the road," an Uber spokesperson said in a statement. "Whether it’s more consistent earnings, stronger insurance protections or fully-funded four-year degrees for drivers or their families, we’ll continue working to improve the experience for and with drivers.”