PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – On Wednesday, Chris Johnston, an Uber driver, drove his car, but he and some of his colleagues at Uber and Lyft were not picking up passengers.
“I’m on strike today,” Johnston told KDKA money editor Jon Delano.
It’s a somewhat hit-or-miss strike by drivers in selected cities upset with the ride-sharing companies.
“We’re striking to say that the emperor has no clothes, and they’re a bunch of jag-offs.”
Johnston has driven for Uber for the last three-and-half years, providing over 7,000 rides to customers.
“What I object to is they have — in all the time I’ve worked for them — they have pretty much ignored labor laws of any kind.”
“Now I do enjoy driving. I meet lots of people this way, and it’s great.”
“But they have traditionally gotten away with murder. And they will still get away with murder, but we can at least poke a stick in their eye for at least one day.”
Johnston sees it as mostly symbolic as Uber tries to take the company public by selling stock, while forcing its drivers to work longer.
“It’s the illusion of freedom,” he says. “Alas, too common these days.”
If there really is an Uber or Lyft strike here in Pittsburgh, it’s pretty hard to see the impact.
A quick check of an Uber app found plenty of cars available in downtown Pittsburgh.
Lyft driver Cathy Stewart was out serving riders.
“I am definitely not on strike today.”
Delano: “But some of your colleagues are?”
Stewart: “I am guessing. I don’t know. Come from the airport and the queue is full up there — ton of cars.”
Stewart is not worried about not getting benefits or being overworked.
“We’re independent contractors so in that sense we get to pick and choose where we drive, when we drive, how long we drive.”
“You have to go pick up your kid or something, you can just drop what you’re doing and go do it.”
At least so far that’s the view of most local drivers who seem to be driving.