Uber, Lyft drivers announce strike across Pittsburgh region this weekend

PITTSBURGH — Multiple Uber and Lyft drivers across the Pittsburgh region are on strike from 3 p.m. Friday to 3 p.m. Sunday.

“We don’t want to hurt the consumer. We want them to be aware of what’s going on,” said rideshare driver Mike O’Connor.

Channel 11 spoke with three drivers on Friday, who said they have been driving for both Uber and Lyft for years.

O’Connor said he takes pride in the service that their work provides to the community, from helping inebriated people get home safely, to helping travelers get to and from the airport.

But, in recent months, the challenges have been piling up, the drivers told us.

As their own costs add up for frequently filling their tanks and safely maintaining their vehicles, the drivers say they have simultaneously noticed that they’re earning less.

“We’ve been getting less and less and less every day,” driver, Sayd, told us.

“Basically, we’ve seen rider fares go up and driver pay go down,” O’Connor added.

According to the drivers, the rideshare companies recently changed the way in which drivers earn fees.

Months ago, drivers had a “rate card” system, where their earnings were easily calculated based on their journeys.

Now, they claim the apps changed, and they are provided “upfront pricing” where drivers are immediately told how much they will earn on any single ride.

But, the drivers claim, they can’t figure out the new calculations, and have estimated they’re earning 25 percent less than they had previously with the “rate cards.”

Channel 11 was there as two of the drivers received alerts for the same trip from a downtown hotel to the airport. One driver was offered $15.11 for the ride, while the other was offered $16.91.

“We have no idea how they’re coming up with the numbers now,” said Lori Retsch.

Retsch and the drivers said that they’re also fighting for improved safety measures.

They purchased their own dash cams, claiming that the company does not supply them.

Retsch however noted that a dashcam was not enough to save the life of Christi Spicuzza, who was shot to death by a passenger in early 2022.

The man accused of pulling the trigger had been riding under another person’s account, according to police.

Retsch says that riders frequently “piggyback” off of other accounts.

“We get trip requests from people who put ‘Rigatoni’ as their name. We have to have my real name on the app, the customer does not.”

Channel 11 contacted both Lyft and Uber for responses after the strike was announced.

Lyft sent us the following statements:

“Lyft cares deeply about drivers and we work hard to ensure our platform offers valuable and flexible earning opportunities. In fact, drivers nationwide in Q3 were earning on average $35+ per utilized hour including tips and bonuses. We expanded our cashback rewards program to help drivers save at the pump, and because we know transparency and choice are critical, we launched upfront pay across the country, which shows drivers ride information and what they’ll earn before accepting a ride.”

“We’re committed to doing what we can to help keep drivers safe. While safety incidents on our platform are rare, we realize that even one is too many. Behind every report is a real person and real experience. That’s why we continue to take action and invest in technology, policies and partnerships to make Lyft as safe as it can be.”

A statement from Uber reads “All drivers receive the fare and destination information upfront before they accept a trip. In Pittsburgh, for the final quarter of 2022, drivers in the US made $35 per utilized hour on average.”

Uber also stated that it has a “strong commitment to safety” that “has raised the bar for safety standards in the rideshare industry and many of the products and policies we’ve pioneered have been replicated by others.”

The company noted these safety features:

  • Emergency button: Users can call or text (where available) 911 and surfaces the real-time location and trip information.
  • 911 integration pilot in 1800+ jurisdictions: If a rider or driver uses the emergency button in one of these cities, our tech and partnership with Rapid SOS enables key trip details to be digitally sent to 911 dispatchers including the caller’s name, make and model of the Uber car, license plate, and GPS. Read more about it HERE.
  • “Live Help” from a Safety Agent: In August 2022, we announced Live Help from an ADT safety agent. For situations that don’t require police, fire or medical, Uber users can request a call or text from an ADT agent who will stay on the phone for the duration of the trip and can reach out to 911 if necessary. Rider video here. Driver video here.
  • RideCheck helps to make sure drivers and riders are OK in the event of a possible crash or unexpected long stop.
  • Follow My Ride feature, which is available in the app for drivers, enables them to share their trip route in real-time with family or loved ones.
  • In 2021, we rolled out a new rider verification feature across the US that will provide an extra layer of verification for users who are using anonymous forms of payment such as prepaid cards, gift cards or Venmo. See blog here.
  • Users who set up a new account using one of these anonymous forms of payment or log into a new device using an existing account that was set up with one of these payment types will be required to upload an ID or driver’s license from any state or a passport from any country for verification.
  • This feature is something drivers have told us they would like to see implemented and we continue to explore new ways to enhance safety and peace of mind for them when using the Uber app.
  • Rider Names: In 2022, we conducted a large audit of rider account names and freezing accounts with names that are clearly fake. These accounts will remain blocked until riders update or validate their account names with our support agents. Drivers can flag any fake or inappropriate names they encounter. Drivers can go to their app’s Help section, find the option to report an issue with a rider, and select My rider had an inappropriate name. Uber’s Support team will then be able to take appropriate action to block those accounts until the names are updated. For more information, click here.
  • Driver Safety Awareness Center: A new in-app feature houses all of the safety tips that we developed in partnership with law enforcement.

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