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Drivers urge Uber CEO to leave Trump advisory council after travel ban

Greg Nash

Drivers in New York City are urging Uber CEO Travis Kalanick to step down from President Trump’s advisory council following the administration’s new immigration and refugee restrictions.

The Independent Drivers Guild, a union that represents over 45,000 for-hire vehicle drivers in the city, launched a petition on Thursday asking Kalanick to leave the council immediately in protest of the temporary travel ban.

The petition is also calling on Uber to donate to nonprofit organizations that are fighting the restrictions, as well as assure drivers that they will not be punished for protesting the executive action.

{mosads}“There would be no Uber without immigrants. Nine in ten Uber drivers in New York City are immigrants,” said the group’s founder, Jim Conigliaro, Jr. “As a company whose success is built on a foundation of hard work by immigrant workers, Uber can and should do better to stand up for immigrants and their workers.”

After Trump issued an executive order halting U.S. refugee resettlement for four months — and Syrian refugee resettlement indefinitely — as well as banning immigrants from seven majority-Muslim countries for 90 days, the New York Taxi Workers Alliance stopped picking up fares from John F. Kennedy International Airport in a show of solidarity for those affected. 

Uber came under fire for sending drivers to the airport and not charging surge prices, which some said undermined the taxi strike. Meanwhile, its rival Lyft donated $1 million to the American Civil Liberties Union, prompting a surge of users to delete Uber and instead download Lyft.

But Kalanick outlined how he would help affected drivers in a Facebook post on Sunday.

He wrote that the “ban will impact many innocent people,” noting that many drivers from countries affected by the visa ban may be traveling outside of the U.S. and unable to re-enter and earn an income for at least three months. 

“We are working out a process to identify these drivers and compensate them pro bono during the next three months to help mitigate some of the financial stress and complications with supporting their families and putting food on the table,” Kalanick said.

Kalanick said he would mention the issue on Friday at Trump’s first business advisory group meeting.

Giving up his seat on the advisory council, however, would mean that Uber would be in less of a position to represent the interests of the company or relay the concerns of its employees to the new administration.

And, as CNBC reported, Lyft has its own ties to the White House, with Trump special adviser Carl Icahn investing $100 million in Lyft a few years ago.

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