Rideshare drivers, apart from the Independent Drivers Guild, gathered to protest the lack of unionization for rideshare drivers. The protest was small by numbers, but a wide range of speakers, including drivers and local politicians, spoke about the importance of drivers’ rights.
The June 3, 2021 protest was held in front of the Falchi Building, which is a large office space in Queens. In the past, protests like this have been held at other locations. For example, a 2019 protest was held near the Brooklyn Bridge and the mayor’s residence, which resulted in slowed traffic.
The Falchi Building was chosen for the protest because it houses 36,000 square feet of Uber offices. The neighborhood, Long Island City, has been an epicenter for the city’s ride-sharing operations. Lyft and the Taxi Limousine Commission also have offices nearby.
The gathering was in support of a proposed bill that’s currently making its way through the state legislature in Albany, which could make it easier for gig workers in the state to unionize. According to bill sponsor state Senator Diane Savino of State Island, “Currently, the gig workers have no voice in their workplace. No voice to negotiate pay or benefits of workplace policies. And I have been talking about this issue for several years now. The world of work is changing, and labor law has not caught up to technology and how it has changed the world of work.”
The new bill would not just have an effect on rideshare drivers but a wide range of gig economy jobs. No matter what the work, the complaint remains that corporations thrive on contractor workers who are not given fair benefits.
Some rideshare drivers spoke with TechCrunch at the event. One, in particular, Tamina Ahmed, a member of the NYC Rideshare Club and registered nurse who has also worked as a driver for six years, said, “That takes a lot of time, funds, and energy for the drivers. They have to sacrifice to get to this point, and it’s not right for them to be deactivated without cause. They don’t give a valid reason. They just deactivate them. They’re never on the driver’s side. They’re always on the rider’s side.”
Protesters are optimistic about the proposed legislation. The ability to unionize would bring about certain protections like wages, discrimination protection, and unemployment benefits. For more information on the latest rideshare industry news, click here.