Op-ed by Driver Derrick Baker: Uber Is Hurting Drivers Like Me in Its Legal Fight in California
New York Times
— I love to drive. Before Uber, I was a car service owner-operator for 10 years and got a thrill out of meeting new people while making my way around San Francisco, a place I’ve called home for over 30 years. I drove my black Mercedes sedan full-time five to six days a week, and counted myself lucky. When my wife died in 2011, I stopped, taking time to grieve. I first heard about Uber when I came back in 2017. It seemed like a godsend. My friends in the car-service industry were quickly switching to the app, making as much money or more than when they were operating on their own. It felt like a win-win. In hindsight, I can see it was a classic bait and switch. After undercutting the black-car and taxi industries to direct consumers (and drivers) to Uber, the company turned on us, cannibalizing the very market it helped create. In my first couple of years driving, Uber announced driver rate cuts that meant the portion of the fare the company kept would be higher than what I took home. After accounting for waiting time and other expenses like gas and wear and tear on my car (all costs I have to cover), I’d be lucky if I got $10 per hour. That’s not even minimum wage in San Francisco.