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Uber drivers strike in New York City after pay increase temporarily blocked

Uber car service in New York City
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(NEW YORK) — Hundreds of Uber drivers in New York City are carrying out a day-long strike on Thursday after a lawsuit from the rideshare company temporarily blocked a pay increase set to take effect last month.

Striking drivers were set to hold a rally at the Manhattan headquarters of Uber, demanding the company drop its legal challenge and allow the pay increase to go forward.

A new rule from the Taxi and Limousine Commission, a city agency, would significantly raise minimum compensation for rideshare drivers, hiking pay by more than 7% per minute and 23% per mile.

The pay bump will yield a typical rideshare driver an additional $1,000 each month, said the New York Taxi Workers Alliance, or NYTWA, a labor group that organized the strike.

Samassa Tidiane, who has driven for Uber since 2014, said he is participating in the strike on Thursday because the need for a pay increase has become especially urgent amid near-historic inflation.

“This week, I was in the supermarket and a packet of a dozen eggs cost $8.49. Before, it was less than $2,” he told ABC News. “If our pay doesn’t go up, how are we supposed to survive?”

Tidiane said he typically works 12 or 13 hours each day, taking home up to $1,000 per week. But expenses like gas and car repair cut significantly into the earnings. He said Uber doesn’t cover such costs.

“Uber doesn’t give us one penny,” Tidiane said. “They treat us like garbage.”

The pay increase was set to take hold last month but a Manhattan judge suspended implementation days before, after a legal bid from Uber.

In its lawsuit, Uber objected to the new rule as “arbitrary and capricious,” saying it departs from the city agency’s previous decisions and relies on a faulty methodology.

In a statement, Uber said it expected few drivers to participate in the protest on Thursday.

“Every time the taxi association calls for a strike, drivers demonstrate they’re more interested in delivering for New Yorkers than social media discourse,” the company said. “We expect this time will be no different.”

The action from Uber drivers marks the second single-day strike carried out in protest of the delayed implementation of the city’s pay raise.

The first strike, on Dec. 19, prompted thousands of rideshare drivers to log off, forcing companies to institute surge pricing, NYTWA said.

Uber downplayed the effect of the first strike, saying that on that day the company recorded 8% more trips and 7% more drivers than an average Monday over the last three months of the previous year.

The next court date in the case over the pay increase is set for Jan. 31.

If the pay raise remains stalled in court, drivers may take part in a future strike lasting as long as two weeks, Tidiane said.

“If they do nothing today, we’re going to prepare a next step,” he said.

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