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Orlando Uber and Lyft drivers calling for better compensation and benefits

App workers and rideshare drivers in Orlando gathered to go on strike at the Orlando International Airport for better compensation and rights.
Marian Summerall
App workers and rideshare drivers in Orlando gathered to go on strike at the Orlando International Airport for better compensation and rights.

Ride Sharing drivers went on strike at the Orlando International Airport, joining others nationwide, calling for better pay and benefits from companies like Uber and Lyft.

The group that organized the effort is the national coalition of Justice for App Workers. The organization’s goal is to transform the industry for drivers with better pay and health care access for drivers. There are over 130,000 drivers and rideshare workers that are represented in the coalition.

At the demonstration in Orlando, Engelberth Salam wanted users to know there’s a person behind the app.

“Just know that Uber and Lyft, we are us, the drivers, not the companies,” Salam said. “Okay, at the end, we are the face. We are, you know, the image of the two companies, we're the drivers.”

In a statement, Uber said despite the Valentine’s holiday, it didn’t expect any interruption to users. “That’s because the vast majority of drivers are satisfied - earnings remain strong, and as of last quarter, drivers in the U.S. were making about $33 per utilized hour. We also continue to act on driver feedback, adding new safety features to the app and improving our account deactivation processes.”

The Independent Drivers Guild is an advocacy group that unites drivers across the nation to advocate for better rights. Brendan Sexton, national president of the Independent Drivers Guild said drivers are tired of what he calls the injustice from ride-sharing companies.

“Americans depend on Uber and Lyft drivers to get them to their destination, but what they may not know is that the app companies are pocketing big chunks of each fare, leaving drivers on their own to struggle with soaring expenses,” Sexton said. “Rideshare drivers across the nation are saying enough is enough. Uber and Lyft need to start listening to the drivers who riders depend on and stop exploiting their workforce.”

In addition to Orlando, drivers also gathered in Tampa and Miami along with other major cities across the country.

Salam said the group is also calling for better safety considerations for drivers.

“We don't want nothing that we don't deserve. Okay, we deserve a nice payment,” Salam said. “Second, we need more security points for the drivers because we don’t have the provisions to get protections.”

Marian is a multimedia journalist at Central Florida Public Media working as a reporter and producer for the 'Are We There Yet?' space podcast.
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