PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — The love between Pittsburgh and Uber has gone cold.
Nationally, Uber’s been the focus of a lot of bad press of late — from allegations of stealing trade secrets to charges of sexual harassment. Now, Mayor Bill Peduto says here in Pittsburgh they’ve also fallen short.
“We certainly have some expectations for them and there’s a Pittsburgh way of doing business,” Peduto said.
Monday in the Wall Street Journal, Peduto said that Uber has turned a deaf ear to the city’s requests for things like free rides for seniors and help in securing federal grants. Last week, the mayor told KDKA he wants better pay and benefits for Uber drivers, in keeping with Pittsburgh’s strong labor traditions.
“A lot of things like workers’ rights are in our DNA and we expect them to enhance that not take away from it,” Peduto said.
To that end, the mayor is asking for memorandum of understanding with Uber to clearly lay out the terms of a mutually beneficial partnership. In response, Uber issued this statement:
“Uber is proud to have put Pittsburgh on the self-driving map, an effort that included creating hundreds of tech jobs and investing hundreds of millions of dollars. We hope to continue to have a positive presence in Pittsburgh by supporting the local economy and community.”
Audrey Russo of the Pittsburgh Technology Council agrees that Uber has been a tremendous shot in the arm for the Pittsburgh economy.
“You talk to the people who work for Uber they come from all over the world and they’re discovering the magic of Pittsburgh and they’re helping create the magic of Pittsburgh,” Russo said.
But soon, Uber will not be the only ones in self-driving business. Ford is pumping a billion dollars over next five years into a new company called Argo AI, and Peduto says Ford, for one, has been very receptive to a cooperative agreement with the city.
“The possibility is very real that if we can get an agreement with Uber and Ford we can start to see how the autonomous vehicle industry can be respectful of our past,” Peduto said.