Earlier this week, we reported on a big protest – at Beverly and Larchmont – of the recent wave of abortion bans across the country. On Thursday, we stumbled onto another – even bigger – protest rally, a few neighborhoods to the south of us, in West Adams Heights. As part of a larger “half-day action” joining striking fast food workers in advocating for guaranteed minimum wages, more than 100 drivers for services such as Uber, Lyft, Postmates and other services, represented by the Mobile Workers Alliance, gathered to demonstrate in favor of a $30/hr. guaranteed minimum wage ($15/hr. for the driver and $15/hr. for vehicle costs).
According to Coral Itzcali, the MWA spokesperson for the rally, the group’s goal was to temporarily shut down operations at the Uber Greenlight Hub (where drivers go for paperwork processing, in-person driver support and basic vehicle inspections) at 2118 S. Hobart Blvd. The drivers began lining up about a block and a half away, on S. Harvard Blvd., at about 9:30 a.m., and at 10:30 made their way down the block and around the corner to the Uber hub, chanting and honking their horns. They spent about 10 minutes at the site, blocking the street and the entrance to the parking lot, while presenting their positions to Uber staff. Then the group moved on to join striking fast food workers at a McDonald’s at 2838 Crenshaw Blvd., who were also rallying for a $15/hr. minimum wage.
According to Linda Valdivia, an Uber and Lyft driver quoted on the MWA’s FB page, mobile service drivers have “a common challenge” with fast food workers, “…and that’s the greedy executives that pocket millions and millions, but pay their workers very little. The majority of Uber and Lyft drivers earn less than minimum wage.”
Itzcali, elaborating at the Uber hub rally, said mobile drivers’ average hourly wage is about $9.21 (a figure that jibes with a recent Washington Post report), and they are not covered by minimum wage laws because they’re considered independent contractors and not employees. Itzcali said some cities, such as New York, have already instituted guaranteed minimum wages for mobile drivers, and the MWA is advocating for Los Angeles to do the same.