Some Uber and Lyft drivers are boycotting several days of SXSW. They say they are using the time to protest the companies that employ them.
“Local drivers are hurting every time there's a special event,” says one Uber driver who wished to remain anonymous. “Here SXSW local drivers are not making ends meet because there are too many drivers,” he says, adding, “We are trying to let the City Council and the City of Austin know that we are not 100% with Uber.”
The man says they’ve been boycotting every Tuesday for past month, and will continue to do so. He says about 150 people boycotted on Valentine’s Day and he believes the number is continuing to grow.
They are hoping to send a message about an ordinance that the group "Ridesharing Works For Austin" is trying to pass in May. It was validated in February, after it was turned in with a petition that had more than 26,000 signatures. They want the city of Austin to get rid of the ordinance that requires fingerprint background checks for Uber and Lyft drivers.
“At no point did they tell us when we were collecting those signatures that they were going to submit their own ordinance,” the driver says. “It does not protect the drivers, it doesn't do anything for us.”
The Uber and Lyft drivers who spoke with FOX 7 said they joined taxi drivers in solidarity for Tuesday’s rally. It was organized by the Taxi Driver’s association who believe Uber and Lyft pushed their petition through unfairly.
Austinites who use Uber and Lyft are also getting involved too.
“I've spoken to people that signed the petition thinking the city was trying to kick them out of this town which isn't true,” says Krissy O’Brien.
She says she thinks Uber and Lyft are needed in the city, but she doesn’t agree with what they are proposing.
“I just can't support a company that won't work with the city and writes its own rules,” she says, adding, “I think this is corporate greed at its finest.”
A Ridesharing Works for Austin spokesperson tells FOX 7 that they did not write a new ordinance and that they are simply trying to go back to the old way of doing things.
Their full statement reads:
The petition ordinance signed by over 65,000 Austinites and filed by Ridesharing Works for Austin earlier this year matches word for word the ordinance that voters will decide on May 7th. Proposition 1 preserves the ability of the tens of thousands of ridesharing drivers to earn money in a flexible manner for them and their families. On May 7th, voters in Austin will have the opportunity to ensure that ridesharing, a safe and affordable way to travel, continues.
The Uber and Lyft drivers who spoke with FOX 7 say they will continue boycotting every Tuesday until the May 7 vote. The city says because the petition the City Clerk validated, there is no way of removing it from the ballot.