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AOC and Bernie Sanders back striking Uber and Lyft drivers: 'The greed has got to end'

Max Zahn
Reporter

Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders (D-VT) and Queens Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) were among prominent Democrats voicing their support on Wednesday for striking Uber (UBER) and Lyft (LYFT) drivers, just two days before Uber goes public.

Several 2020 Democratic presidential campaigns said they would honor the strike, including those of Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA), Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ), entrepreneur Andrew Yang, Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-CA), Mayor Pete Buttigeg (D-IN), Rep. Tim Ryan (D-OH), and Sen. Kristen Gillibrand (D-NY).

“Uber and Lyft drivers are struggling as they work for billion-dollar companies,” tweeted Sanders, also a presidential candidate. “I stand in solidarity with them as they strike today for a dignified life.”

In another tweet, Sanders added: “The greed has got to end.”

‘We just won a major victory against Uber and Lyft’

The strike reportedly involves thousands of Uber and Lyft drivers in at least 15 cities in the United States, United Kingdom, and Australia. The workers are demanding a living wage, an end to unfair terminations, and a cap on the share of fares received by the companies, according to advocacy group New York Taxi Workers Alliance.

Bhairavi Desai, the executive director of New York Taxi Workers Alliance, said she welcomes the support for striking drivers among 2020 Democratic presidential candidates.

“The fact that presidential candidates are speaking out in support of the App drivers' strike means that we just won a major victory against Uber and Lyft,” Desai told Yahoo Finance. “It means that politicians know which way the wind blows—and it’s blowing on a spark of worker uprisings against corporate greed.”

Striking independent drivers rally outside ride-hailing giants Uber and Lyft offices, calling for "fair pay for all drivers," Wednesday May 8, 2019, in New York. (AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews)

The striking drivers also received support on Wednesday from leaders at some of the country’s largest labor unions, including SEIU President Mary Kay Henry and AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka, who combined represent nearly 14 million workers.

Labor unions, who can offer candidates valuable financial and volunteer support, are in the process of determining who they will endorse in the Democratic presidential primary.

“Whoever is running for president, what we want is for them to support workers' rights,” said Shirley Aldebol, a vice president of 163,000-member union local SEIU 32BJ, who attended a rally in support of striking Uber and Lyft drivers in New York City. “We continue to assess all the presidential candidates. We’ll make that decision when the time comes.”

Uber is currently the clear leader in ridesharing (Photo: Yahoo Finance/David Foster)

‘You can help all the drivers you’ve met get paid more’

Ocasio-Cortez, who is not running for president, told her 4.1 million followers to honor the strike.

“It’s a small but big way you can help all the drivers you’ve met get paid more to feed their families + support themselves,” she said.

Uber drivers earn the equivalent of $9.21 an hour, according to a study released on Tuesday by the left-leaning Economic Policy Institute. The company plans to price its IPO on Thursday and go public on the New York Stock Exchange the following day. The company is seeking a valuation as high as $90 billion.

Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren, another Democratic presidential candidate, did not comment on the strike on Wednesday but has supported rideshare drivers in the past.

“.@Uber and @lyft executives are preparing to cash in by taking their companies public, so they're squeezing their drivers and slashing their pay,” Warren tweeted in March, when drivers in Los Angeles took part in a strike.

Max Zahn is a reporter for Yahoo Finance.

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