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Uber, Lyft Drivers Crowd LAX, Protest Low Pay

Over 100 drivers from Uber and Lyft gathered at Los Angeles International Airport to protest against what they say is unfair compensation from the companies. They hoped to alert the Los Angeles City Council about labor practices among ridesharing companies.

LAX Rideshare Protesters hold signs curbside
Drivers from Uber and Lyft protest at LAX on August 22, 2017. Photograph by Marie Targonski-O'Brien

Drivers held red and white signs calling for an increase in Uber and Lyft’s base fare while chanting, “What do we want? Higher wages!”

When cars with Uber or Lyft stickers drove through the terminal they were met with  protesters shouting  “Get out of your car,” “join us,” or “turn off your app.”  The demonstration stayed on the sidewalks between terminal one and two and didn’t seem to affect the flow of traffic within the airport.

“Most of us as drivers spend anywhere from 10 to 12 to 15 hours a day in our car six and seven days a week.,” Joann Culligan of Encino said. “We have families that we never see. We have homes that we never see.”

Culligan says Uber and Lyft drivers who pick up passengers from the airport are forced to wait in holding areas for pickups which can lead to long waits for passengers and little compensation for drivers.

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Basically, Uber pays us 67 cents a mile, sticks us in traffic and expects us to come up to this airport after sitting up there for an hour to pick up a passenger going to Playa Vista for four dollars,” Culligan says.

"I'm going to ask you. What is your time worth?”

Protesters from Uber and Lyft hold signs demanding higher wages
Protesters line the sidewalk at LAX demanding higher wages from rideshare companies, Uber and Lyft. Photograph by Marie Targonski-O'Brien

Drivers are demanding increases for Los Angeles that match New York drivers earnings according to a press release from Southern California Rideshare Drivers Group.

"It seems like they are taking more and more money,” Gary Smith, who drives for Uber and Lyft says.

"When we started they were taking out 20 percent and now they are taking out 30 percent.”

Smith says it used to take him four or five hours to make a hundred dollars now it can take anywhere between eight to 10 hours to earn that amount.

Uber’s website frames its ride sharing program as a part time job, describing it as a ‘side hustle’ and a way to make extra money.  The homepage for Lyft has the slogan  ‘happy drivers, happy riders’ but makes no mention of how much drivers earn or benefits offered.

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