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Why Rideshare App Drivers Are Striking on Valentine’s Day

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Updated: | Originally published:

Thousands of rideshare app drivers are going on strike on Valentine’s Day across 10 U.S. cities to protest low wages and poor safety standards, alongside expressing their concerns about job security.

Uber, Lyft, Doordash and other drivers will not be offering rides to or from the airport in Austin, Chicago, Hartford, Miami, Newark, Orlando, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Rhode Island, and Tampa, Fla. on Feb. 14. Justice for App Workers, the union representing more than 130,000 rideshare drivers and delivery workers, said drivers will be striking all day.

“Uber and Lyft pay rideshare drivers poverty wages so low they’re below the minimum wage in some states, forcing drivers to work up to 60-80 hours a week in mobile-sweatshop conditions just to be able to pay their bills,” the union said in a statement to TIME. “Drivers are striking to transform our industry, and to upend Uber and Lyft’s systems of exploitation to create instead a more just future, where our labor and humanity are treated with dignity.”

Drivers at these companies are independent contractors, not employees. That designation means that drivers do not get the same legal protections other full-time employees do under federal labor law.

About 15% of Lyft drivers last year earned less than 70% of what riders pay, Reuters reports. Lyft recently sought to rectify that on Feb. 6, when they announced that drivers will be guaranteed weekly earnings. Uber told USA Today in a statement that “strikes ‘have rarely had any impact on trips, prices, or driver availability.’"

In November 2023, Uber and Lyft paid $328 million to settle a lawsuit against them for alleged wage theft. The settlement also required Uber and Lyft to provide minimum driver “earnings floor,” paid sick leave, and other changes, according to a press release from the New York State Attorney General’s Office.

The original version of this story misstated when the strike is happening. It will last all day on Feb. 14, not just from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

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