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Uber Drivers Attempt to Disrupt the Disrupter, but Weekend Protest Fizzles

Drivers seek a 60 percent boost in Uber X rates, an option for riders to tip their drivers within the Uber app and a minimum $7 fare.

Pablo Blazquez Dominguez / Getty

Uber drivers across the country are trying to disrupt the disrupter, staging a strike this weekend to demand tips and higher wages from the ride-hailing service.

But the protest quickly shifted into low gear.

About a dozen drivers picketed Uber’s corporate headquarters in San Francisco, Calif., on Friday. By Saturday afternoon, no protestors could be found — even though the service has some 20,000 drivers in the Bay Area. There were no reports of service interruptions.

Drivers in San Francisco, Phoenix, Washington, Boston and Los Angeles turned off the ride-hailing service’s app on Friday as part of a three-day protest organized by a group calling itself Uber Freedom.

The group used Facebook to publish its demands, which include a 60 percent boost in Uber X rates, an option for riders to tip their drivers within the Uber app and a minimum $7 fare.

“We have a true opportunity to make change in all of our drivers’ lives,” said an organizer in a video posted to Facebook. “It doesn’t matter if you’re a billion-dollar corporation, we’ve got to let these people know that we, the people, have the power, and if we stand united, can accomplish and do anything we desire.”

Uber issued a statement saying it welcomes feedback from its “driver-partners.” The company had about 327,000 drivers on its platform in the U.S. last month, who earned $82 million in the last week.

“Each week, tens of thousands of drivers across the U.S. begin using the Uber app to make money on their own time, to reach their own goals,” the company said in a statement. “Drivers say they value the flexibility and the chance to be their own boss, and choose Uber over other options because it fits around their life and works for them.”

 Uber Freedom flier posted on Facebook.
Uber Freedom flier posted on Facebook.
Uber Freedom

This is not the first time Uber has faced angry drivers. Last year, San Francisco drivers organized at Uber’s old headquarters. The company learned of the protest and greeted drivers with coffee and pastries and drivers met with CEO Travis Kalanick, who quickly defused the tension.

As recently as this week, drivers gathered at UCLA to protest Kalanick, who was collecting an entrepreneur award from his alma mater. He halted the situation by promising to speak with them one on one afterward.

At the heart of the issue is Uber’s contentious relationship with some drivers. Unlike Lyft, it doesn’t allow in-app tipping. It occasionally cuts fare rates to attract new passengers, promising drivers they’ll make the same amount of money overall because more people will use the service.

While the protest’s momentum fizzled, it nonetheless got attention in traditional and social media, with debate raging under the hashtag #UberStrike.

https://twitter.com/MeetYourMuse1/status/655487902575554561

https://twitter.com/princessdionnej/status/655446484750438400

This article originally appeared on Recode.net.