Rideshare drivers call for Uber strike on Memorial Day

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Posted at 6:11 PM, May 31, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-01 07:48:53-04

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — The strike initiated by Torsten Kunert, better known as Rideshare Professor, was a call to action in hopes that Uber would pay closer attention to the safety of their drivers.

Kunert posted a video to YouTube and the message began to circulate with drivers around the country saying they were willing to take off one of the busiest travel holidays all year.

On Monday, we heard many of the same issues with expensive rides and time-consuming waits. What we couldn’t tell is if this was a byproduct of the strike or if this was part of the driver shortage, cities like Nashville have had to endure for weeks.

Justine is visiting from California and said, “We’re waiting a long time for sure. Like 20 minutes, 25 minutes.” Her friend explained how one ride was at least $60 to drive 10 minutes away.

Rideshare drivers have been in short supply since Nashville and others lifted COVID restrictions. Some of those drivers say they’re hesitant when getting behind the wheel because there's still a risk of catching COVID.

Kunert’s video questioned Uber’s attempt at getting feedback from drivers through a new pilot program called Uber Crew. The idea is drivers would volunteer to be a spokesperson for their community and relay concerns back to Uber.

“They sort of pretend okay, we're going to get you involved in the decision-making process. We’re going to give you a voice. We’ll create a panel for you. Nothing ever pans out. Nothing materializes,” Kunert said.

Kunert follows up the statement by saying, "listen, the only way we amplify our voices is by striking on Memorial Day.”

We spoke with Kunert who explained that it was never about taking attention away from our fallen heroes, but instead to make Uber and Lyft remember the drivers who have been in harm's way. He says these drivers deserve more protection for showing up and being in close contact with people who could be carrying the virus. The same recognition also applies to those attacked on the job.

“We remember all the fallen heroes. No doubt about it, but Uber and Lyft, we will make you remember us,” Kunert said.

Uber tells us they haven’t seen an interruption in service other than the delays we’ve already reported from the driver shortage. They say service is no different now than it was last week.

Each rideshare company has developed an incentive plan to bring drivers back. Uber is now paying the equivalent of $24 per hour for those who work at least 20 hours per week. The pay scale will continue until they feel they have enough drivers for the demand.