Boston Uber and Lyft Drivers Will Join an All-Day Strike on Wednesday, May 8

The Boston Independent Drivers Guild is calling on drivers and riders to turn off the apps for 24 hours.

Someone calls an uber

Photo via iStock/Photo via iStock/Mlenny

A group of Uber and Lyft workers in Boston are hoping you’ll turn off the apps for a full day on Wednesday, May 8, when they plan to join cities around the country in a strike.

The Boston Independent Drivers Guild, an organization formed last summer, says it is asking drivers to stay off the clock for a full 24 hours beginning at midnight, and asked riders to support them by not hailing rides using the services during that time. Similar strikes are planned in Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco, New York, and Washington, D.C., ahead of Uber’s planned initial public offering on Thursday.

“The sweat of these drivers is what’s funding the IOP,” says Felipe Martinez, of the Guild’s board of directors, in a phone interview. “They’re gonna be giving the profits to investors from the sweat of the drivers, and we feel that’s unfair when they keep lowering our pay.”

The Guild plans to stage a protest outside an Uber office at 168 Broadway in Saugus from 12-3 p.m.

In an emailed statement, Lyft did not acknowledge the planned action, but said pay for its drivers is going up:

Lyft drivers’ hourly earnings have increased over the last two years, and they have earned more than $10B on the Lyft platform. Over 75 percent drive less than 10 hours a week to supplement their existing jobs. On average, Lyft drivers earn over $20 per hour. We know that access to flexible, extra income makes a big difference for millions of people, and we’re constantly working to improve how we can best serve our driver community.

An Uber spokesman pointed to plans to dole out “driver appreciation reward” bonuses ahead of the IPO, as well as other benefits it has offered drivers recently, including a partnership with Arizona State University to offer free college classes.

It’s not yet clear how many drivers and riders the Guild will be able to convince to abstain from the app, given that thousands of people drive for the company statewide and the group is still in its early stages.

Martinez says the Guild has about 200 members so far. For the past two weeks, it’s been trying to spread the word to other drivers online and by handing out leaflets, and the group has a permit to show up at the Massport TNC lot at Logan airport on Tuesday, where members plan to encourage more drivers to take part in the strike.

As it begins its push to get wider attention, the Guild has also been in contact with a few established labor groups, Martinez says, including unions representing Boston school bus drivers, the Boston Teamsters, and the AFL-CIO of Massachusetts.

Martinez says he’s encouraged by what he’s heard on the road, and believes the strike is only the beginning. “I think there is gonna be a lot of traction. When I worked yesterday I picked up 20 people. Five people said, ‘Good luck with the strike on Wednesday,’” he says, adding, “This isn’t the last time they’re gonna hear from us. We’re not going away. We’re a bunch of drivers who are just tired of how we’re being treated.”