Uber, Lyft strike: L.A. rideshare drivers take part in national protest

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- Some Uber and Lyft drivers in Los Angeles turned off their apps Wednesday in protest of what they say are declining wages while both ride-hailing companies rake in billions of dollars from investors.

Demonstrations took place in several cities, including New York, Chicago, San Francisco and Washington D.C., as well as some European locations like London.

Drivers in L.A. participated in the 24-hour strike and picket line at Los Angeles International Airport.

"I live in a really small room, in a house with nine other people. I have pretty much the lowest cost of living you can imagine in L.A. And my wages used to be enough to pay for that," Uber driver Peter Young said. "But they just keep cutting, they keep cutting little by little by little. This 25% cut was a big jump. And now I have to work longer and longer hours every week just to maintain the same cheap standard of living."

The protests arrived just ahead of Uber's initial public stock offering Friday. Uber hopes to raise $9 billion, putting the company's valuation in excess of $91 billion.

Uber said in a statement that the company is constantly working to improve the working environment for drivers.

"Drivers are at the heart of our service - we can't succeed without them - and thousands of people come into work at Uber every day focused on how to make their experience better, on and off the road."

Lyft said its drivers' hourly earnings have increased over the last two years, that 75% of its drivers work less than 10 hours per week to supplement existing jobs and, on average, the company's drivers earn more than $20 an hour before subtracting expenses such as gas and vehicle maintenance.

"We know that access to flexible, extra income makes a big difference for millions of people, and we're constantly working to improve how we can best serve our driver community," Lyft said.

It's not the first time drivers for ride-hailing apps have staged protests. Strikes were planned in several cities ahead of Lyft's IPO last month, although the disruption to riders appeared to be minimal then, too. More cities were participating in the protest this time around.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.
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