Uber took a hit following accusations of breaking New York taxi drivers’ strike at JFK airport, where two Iraqi immigrants were detained on Jan. 28 following President Donald Trump’s immigration ban against seven Muslim-majority countries.
Protesters stormed social media sites with a viral #DeleteUber campaign and began to boycott the ride-share service. More than 200,000 users have since deleted their accounts.
As the cab stands emptied, Uber announced they would suspend surge pricing, increasing rates when demand is at its highest, to and from the airport. Lowering prices and the company’s CEO Travis Kalanick’s position on Trump’s economic council led some to believe Uber supported the president and his controversial statements on immigrants.
“I agree with the protest of being against an individual that stereotypes people for their culture and skin tone, rather than their substance,” said Uber driver and Florida A&M University student Michael Predelus.
Although he hasn’t participated in the taxi strike or driven since Trump’s election, Predelus believes the company’s services should still be utilized. “I do not respect Trump nor do I care for his concerns, but as for the business and the services it provides for its customers is a great one.”
“The downfall of having a shallow owner of the business is what makes my views of leadership for the business differ, but not the actual service,” added Predelus.
Former Uber riders immediately turned to its competitor, Lyft, when co-founders John Zimmer and Logan Green vehemently criticized the ban in a statement. “Banning people of a particular faith or creed, race or identity, from entering the U.S. is antithetical to both Lyft’s and our nation’s core values.”
The statement went on to read, “We stand firmly against these actions, and will not be silent on issues that threaten the values of our community. We know this directly impacts many of our community members, their families, and friends.”
Lyft pledged a $1 million donation over the next four years to the American Civil Liberties Union, a national organization that protects individuals’ constitutional rights. Since the announcement, Lyft has surpassed Uber for the first time in daily downloads in the iOS store.
Facing backlash, Uber issued a statement on Jan. 29 in support of its’ drivers that had difficulty returning to the United States from the countries affected by the travel ban. 24/7 legal support, compensation for drivers who are overseas, and a $3 million legal defense fund to help drivers with immigration and translation services were offered to their employees.
Five days after the #DeleteUber campaign, Kalanick abdicated his position on Trump’s council and emailed employees notifying them of the resignation. “Joining the group was not meant to be an endorsement of the President or his agenda but unfortunately it has been misinterpreted to be exactly that.”
He went on to write, “We will fight for the rights of immigrants in our communities so that each of us can be who we are with optimism and hope for the future.”