Atlanta/ Science, Tech & Medicine
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Published on May 11, 2024
Atlanta Ride-Hail Drivers Rally for Unionization, Seek Fair Pay and Job SecuritySource: Google Street View

Ride-hail drivers in Atlanta are revving up efforts to unionize, demanding better pay and protections. On May 1, approximately 50 drivers from services like Uber and Lyft protested at the state Capitol, wielding signs proclaiming "App Workers Want a Union," part of a broader national movement.

The organization behind this push, Justice For App Workers, highlighted critical concerns such as the uneven payment structures, and the claim that drivers of color are more frequently cut off from their platforms, a practice that directly impacts their livelihood. "I picked up a gentleman from the airport; he paid $32 for the trip," driver Terri Everhart told WABE. "And to bring him downtown, I only got $11 and some change for the trip."

Not limited to ride-sharing, the strike also saw participation from drivers affiliated with food delivery services such as DoorDash, Grubhub, Uber Eats, and Instacart. Despite these efforts, Uber and Lyft stated that the protest did not tangibly affect service or wait times, and both companies expressed their ongoing commitment to enhancing the driver experience.

Felipe Martinez, one of the organizers guiding the campaign in Georgia, voiced a fear of retaliation among drivers, "People are afraid of getting retaliated against, and I can totally understand it," he said in a statement obtained by WABE. Discussing the challenges of organizing geographically dispersed and isolated workers he added, "Being an Uber driver is not like working at Waffle House, where you’re working with your fellow brother and sister, you’re working away in different parts of the city. So it’s very hard to organize here."

Martinez and the group are gearing up for future events, planning additional rallies and demonstrations, particularly targeting Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, a hub of activity for app-based drivers. In a direct appeal to the public, Martinez stated, "We’re not begging for tips," imploring patrons to understand the disparities between what they pay and what drivers earn. "I think one of the most important things is to find out what your rideshare drivers are actually getting paid, and then see what you’re paying, do the math, and tell a friend."

Atlanta-Science, Tech & Medicine