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Uber, Lyft drivers bring Brooklyn Bridge traffic to a crawl in pay protest

December 19, 2022 Mary Frost
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Horns were honking and tempers flared.

Traffic over the Brooklyn Bridge heading towards Manhattan slowed to a crawl Monday morning shortly after 9 a.m. as hundreds of New York Uber and Lyft drivers formed a slow-moving caravan to protest a judge’s temporary restraining order blocking a scheduled pay raise.

Many of the cars bore signs calling rideshare company Uber “The Grinch.”

Pay increases scheduled to kick in Dec. 19 were approved by the NYC Taxi and Limousine Commission to bring livery drivers’ pay up to the equivalent of New York City’s minimum wage after expenses. Uber sued to block the increase, and a restraining order was granted by a Manhattan State Supreme Court judge.

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Uber and Lyft drivers are members of the Independent Drivers Guild (IDG). IDG Organizing Director Aziz Bah said in a statement, “Thousands of New York drivers fought for years to win these raises. While Uber is taking larger and larger commissions from every fare, drivers are being squeezed with the rising cost of living, gas, and car insurance.”

Cars driven by Uber and Lyft drivers slowed Brooklyn Bridge traffic to a crawl Monday morning to protest a judge’s restraining order temporarily blocking a scheduled pay raise. Photo: Mary Frost, Brooklyn Eagle

Uber said in court that the raise would force the company to pay their drivers an additional $21 million to $23 million per month and would require a 10 percent fair increase, according to NY1. At least some of the pay increase was based on the high cost of gas, which has started to come down, according to Uber.

According to Uber’s investor’s report issued Nov. 1, the rideshare company’s revenue grew 72 percent year-to-year during the third quarter to $8.3 billion (or 81 percent on a constant currency basis), beating earnings expectations.

The company also told shareholders that Uber has formed 10-year partnerships with autonomous vehicle (AV) companies Motional and Nuro with the long-term goal of fully driverless vehicles.

After crossing the bridge, the drivers were set to head to Thurgood Marshall Courthouse for a rally, followed by another rally at Uber headquarters in the afternoon.

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