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It was probably the largest-ever gig worker protest to date—and politicians noticed.

Drivers for Uber and Lyft got out of their cars on Wednesday. In major U.S. cities (and a few other places around the world), workers for the ride-hail services organized protests ahead of Uber’s initial public offering on Friday. The company expects to be valued at more than $90 billion. It isn’t profitable right now, hemorrhaging more than $1 billion a year as it subsidizes its service, which is why Uber has been squeezing driver earnings in recent months as it’s made its case to investors. That’s also why the gig workers who make up Uber’s driving fleet chose this of all weeks to make a very loud point.

Their point was that Uber needs to pay up. At a protest in front of Uber’s Market Street headquarters in San Francisco, a driver named Vinni told me that when he started driving for Uber in 2013, he was paid about $2.20 a mile. Now, he says, he gets about 92 cents a mile. At most jobs, he lamented, you’d think that you’d be making more after six years, not less.

Added October 11, 2019