Dear Travis and Josh,
Your company Uber has grown gigantically like no other company has in such a short period of time, and yet is increasingly being challenged by your so-called “partners” everywhere around the world. Further, it’s consistently being challenged by government regulators, civil lawsuits, the media, small businesses and groups of drivers seeking to form or join unions to stand up against your unacceptable and unbearable actions towards them. Thus far, you and your company have been on a downward spiral by angering those who are your most valuable asset: us, the drivers.
In the beginning, your company was great for both drivers and customers. You treated drivers well and we loved you for that. As a result, we used to provide exceptional service to the riders by being courteous and even provide extra perks that we didn’t have to. Little did we know that it would be a short-lived momentary ecstasy that you used to lure us in great numbers, just so that you can execute your plans and strategies towards world domination at any cost; regardless of how much harm you cause along the way to those who help you get there.
We understand that you must be competitive and keep riders happy. But why must it be at the expense of your “partners”? When UberX was $12 minimum, riders didn’t complain because the service was worth it. So what prompted you to cut the fares down by 20%? And if that wasn’t enough, you had to further cut the fares by another 15% at the expense of your “partners” once again. That’s a combined 35% cut in fares for yourselves and the riders at the expense of the drivers. If we are true “partners”, why is it that every time you cut the fares you do not lower the commissions by the same rate? Isn’t that what a “partnership” would entail? This would have sent a clear message that you are willing to stand by the drivers and work towards a mutually beneficial and profitable partnership. Rather you have done the total opposite and increased your commission intake from the drivers; so much so that you have increased your total intake by 130% and decreased the drivers’ fares by 50%.
According to your own data, 45% of your drivers have families of their own. With your price cuts, you have been sending us, your “partners”, a clear message that you do not care about what happens to our families and us. Every time you cut our fares, it is as if though you’re taking parts of our livelihood away, making it difficult for us to put food on the table for our families and provide a decent education for our children. Every time you cut the fares, you are making it nearly impossible for us to cover our expenses from car loans (that some of us got into because of you and through you that are now twice more difficult to pay) to mandatory commercial insurance, to everyday expenses that are required to work as a driver. How can drivers feed themselves and their families on earnings that amount to less than minimum wage?
Your announcements these past few weeks about drivers’ earnings increasing are blatant lies. And you should honestly feel ashamed about that. Drivers are working longer hours and earning less money. It does not require a math PhD to know that cutting fares but not Uber’s commission is squeezing drivers; even a child knows that less does not mean more. As Josh noted on a June 2014 discussion, when Uber raised commissions and prices in March of 2014, drivers netted more. So it compels us to ask the question: how can you then claim that drivers make more when you cut the prices but not decrease your commissions intake?
You have created a culture of expendable drivers. You entice drivers to join with promising ads of making tons of money, just to find out after a few months that it is not as promised. You have saturated the company and the industry as a whole with expendable drivers that make it nearly impossible for any one single driver to make a decent income. The riders pay rates that are much cheaper than a taxi, whereas you and your company maximize your revenue. This is simply no longer acceptable. As you have seen lately, drivers have risen up from the East coast to the West coast in protests and strikes against you and your company in utmost frustration and anger to tell you and the riders that we cannot bear it any longer. The times have changed and the pain is worse than it has ever been, and we’ve reached the pinnacle of frustration. But you and your Board of Directors know what most riders and other people do not know — namely that these pressures are only going to increase. There are few policy changes by your company that can ease many of these pressures and relieve adverse drivers relations.
We demand that the fares go back to the rates prior to the price cuts of the summer of 2014; whereas the minimum fare for UberX is $12. We also demand that Uber grant riders the option to tip their drivers if they so choose to. Lastly, we demand that all Black Car and SUV drivers be given the choice to accept or not accept UberX fares.
It is crucial that you reconsider the fact that Uber without us, the drivers, cannot be sustainable. We provide the vehicles, pay the insurance, cover the gas and all other cost associated being a driver and a transportation provider. Your technology is great, but without drivers on the platform, it’ll be of no value to any consumer seeking a ride.
We are hereby requesting for you to meet with us as your “partners” and discuss our current state of affairs and how we can jointly resolve the issues at hand. If you agree to meet with us by this coming Monday, the 8th of February, good things will happen and we shall halt plans of protests and strikes. You and your fellow executives will feel better. Your public relations will improve. Your customers will be happier with better service provided. So will your company’s overall economic affairs. However, if you refuse to meet and discuss with us by the aforementioned date, such protests and strikes are only going to intensify nationally and globally as we continue to coordinate with driver groups around the globe.
We hope that you will welcome and accept our proposal to meet and discuss in order to resolve the issues at hand. It is better to anticipate than have to react to the looming dark clouds on Uber’s horizon.
We hope to hear your response no later than Sunday evening.
The Uber Drivers Network