Monday, October 19, 2015

Why this weekend's Uber protest was a total flop

Posted By on Mon, Oct 19, 2015 at 2:22 PM

Over the weekend, Uber drivers attempted to stage a protest over disputes with the popular smartphone-driven transportation company. But despite a viral video calling workers to action over raising the minimum fare (and other demands), it seems like the nationwide protest was a flop — at least for now.

In metropolitan Detroit, we noticed no interruption in service. Friends were able to catch a ride following Theatre Bizarre in the wee hours between Saturday and Sunday. On Sunday, other acquaintances said they had no problem summoning multiple Uber lifts to get around Ann Arbor during the big football game and related festivities.

As Re/Code pointed out, what makes Uber great — it's entirely mobile-driven interface — is also its biggest problem. Drivers are connected to their passengers via the app, but they aren't connected to each other — putting major limits on their ability to organize. The protest was organized using Facebook and Twitter, and on unofficial message boards like, but some drivers reported they didn't know it was happening. It could very well be that others knew there was a protest but decided they couldn't say no to the money. (We reached out to Uber drivers to comment on this story, but they refused to speak on the record out of fear of being blocked from the app in retaliation.)

But that's not to say there won't be more protests in the near future. “Uber has not responded to us yet, but we weren’t expecting them to right away anyways,” organizer Abe Husein told Re/Code. “This is just the beginning. We are going to continue to hold strikes/protest across the nation until Uber meets our demand.”

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