Silicon Valley types often wax lyrical about the way that the app-based “sharing economy” disrupts existing business models and create new forms of social relations. When tech magnates extol “disruption,” of course, they likely aren’t talking about the sort caused by labor actions.
But on October 22, tech-giant Uber got a taste of its own disruptive medicine when drivers in at least five cities who work on the ridesharing platform turned off their apps and stopped picking up passengers, in protest of what they say are unjust working conditions and a dwindling share in the company’s profits. Some drivers are calling this action the first strike in the “sharing economy,” a sector known for its aversion to labor organizing.
A small crowd of Uber drivers and labor activists rallied outside the company’s offices in Santa Monica, California, at noon today, carrying signs reading “Uber: 15 Hour Days and Poverty Wages” and “Stop the War on Workers.” Drivers in San Francisco held a concurrent rally, while groups in New York, Chicago and London pledged to turn off their phones for three hours in what organizers are calling a “global day of protest” against Uber.