Portland Uber and Lyft Drivers Plan Rally At City Hall To Demand Better Working Conditions

The coalition wants a new board dedicated to protecting Lyft and Uber drivers.

Traffic in Portland's Chinatown (Ian Sane / Creative Commons)

Disgruntled Portland-area Lyft and Uber drivers, backed by a powerful labor union, are planning a rally outside City Hall on Monday to air their frustrations over low pay, secrecy and gaps in insurance coverage at ride-hailing companies operating here.

It's the latest volley in a longstanding war between the Oregon AFL-CIO and the ride-hailing giants who invaded Portland in 2014 in a major blow to the taxi industry. The AFL-CIO slowed Uber's entry into Portland for more than a year—before the company steamrolled labor and regulators by operating without permits.

The new effort, called The Transportation Fairness campaign, seeks to convince city commissioners to create a new board dedicated to protecting Lyft and Uber drivers.

A spokesperson for Oregon AFL-CIO, Russell Sanders, says the group has been in contact with "several hundred drivers."

The complaints those drivers have, Sanders says, include long wait times to pick up passengers, driving long distances for short rides, getting negative ratings for not accepting rides, incurring cancellation fees, paying high insurance deductibles and only being insured while passengers are in the car.

An Uber spokesman could not immediately be reached for comment.

Sanders expects attendance at the rally to be small—around 50 people—but ultimately, he hopes the demonstration will put driver's complaints in clearer perspective.

"By doing so," he says, "we will highlight why the City of Portland should establish a new board where drivers and impacted community members can sit down with representatives from [Lyft and Uber] to find solutions."

Rally speakers will include drivers, City Commissioner Nick Fish—a longtime Uber critic— and the Oregon AFL-CIO president, Tom Chamberlain.

Related: Commissioner Nick Fish Demands Portland City Council Investigate Uber and Its "Greyball" Secrets

The rally also comes two weeks after Uber's issuance of a public apology to the city for steamrolling into town while flouting city rules.

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