With the blockbuster IPO of Uber Technologies (UBER) right around the corner, the gig-economy appears on a collision course with Wall Street.
On Wednesday, Uber and Lyft (LYFT) drivers in major cities across the United States have gone on strike to demand better pay and benefits.
“The truth is, none of us can make a living doing this work this way,” Lyft driver Nicole Moore told Yahoo Finance’s YFi PM. “They’re putting the squeeze on drivers while they’re making billions.”
Lyft raised an impressive $2.34 billion dollars from its IPO back in March. Uber is expected to raise up to $10 billion dollars ahead of its Friday trading debut, according to the Wall Street Journal.
But the image of the ride hailing giants being flush with cash is more complicated than meets the eye. While Lyft brought in revenue of $776 million during the first quarter of 2019, it also reported a loss of $1.12 billion. Uber expects its first quarter financial losses to be at least $1 billion dollars, according to a recent filing with the SEC.
However, years of high growth for Uber and Lyft have drivers like Moore — who’s also an organizer for the protest group Rideshare Drivers United — demanding better.
“A lot of us started driving many years ago and we could actually make a pretty good living. At this point though where we’re at, they go lower and lower in a race to the bottom on wages,” she says.
Lyft disputes the criticisms of driver pay, saying in a statement that “hourly earnings have increased 7% over the last two years, and they have earned more than $14 billion on the Lyft platform…On average, Lyft drivers earn over $20 per hour.”
Uber strikes a similar tone, stating, “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."
Moore has no plans to give up the fight for her cause. “Most of us, our only relationship to our job is on our phone, right? We have to break down that isolation…We’re building direct relationships with each other because we’re building an organization so that we have a voice. Nobody is listening to drivers.”
Time will tell if investors, company executives, and riders will hear them.
Watch the video above for more.