Uber driver: "I'm just asking for a livable wage"

Uber & Lyft drivers go on strike

Last Updated May 8, 2019 12:27 PM EDT

Uber and Lyft drivers are on strike in cities around the world. The protest comes ahead of Uber's expected initial public offering that could value the company at more than $90 billion.

Jeff Perry has been driving for Uber for more than three years. But his first riders of the day are not paying. He takes his two daughters to school before making the two-hour trek from Sacramento to San Francisco where he can earn more money driving but can't afford to live, CBS News correspondent Jamie Yuccas reports. Instead, he'll spend the next five nights at a hotel. 

While Perry enjoys meeting new passengers, he said he drives long hours for Uber with little to show for it.
 
"I'm just asking for a livable wage, you know?" Perry said. 

"It's super frustrating because I'm not treated with the same respect and concern that I have treated them with," Perry responded. "To them, we're disposable garbage, and you can feel it as a driver."  

Perry said the first year he worked for the company he made $60,000 before taxes and expenses. Last year, he said he made $35,000 working more hours. He blamed lower fares and reduced incentives. 

Uber points to a recent study showing drivers nationwide earned an average of about $18.60 an hour before expenses. But experts who've studied the company said it can and does change its rates.
 
"It constantly experiments on the working conditions of drivers, except this is not a free consumer experience, people depend on Uber to earn their living. When your boss experiments on how much you get paid without notifying you … that can really rankle," said Alex Rosenblat, author of "Uberland: How Algorithms are Rewriting the Rules Of Work."

"If things don't get better, there's no way I'll continue to do this. There's no way I could continue to do this," Perry said.

"A lot of people would say, if it's this bad, why not get another job somewhere else?" Yuccas asked.

"I understand that argument. But at the same time, this is a job that I actually like doing," Perry said. "So it's worth putting in the effort and trying to fight for better conditions and make it better."
 
Perry plans to take part in Wednesday's call for action. Drivers for both Uber and Lyft, which went public in March, are calling for changes, including better benefits, more transparency and higher wages.
 
"For a lot of drivers this is a good bad job compared to their alternatives, because it comes with additional scheduling flexibility that they might not have if they're working retail. But in other ways, there's a lot to be said about improvements that could come to this type of work," Rosenblat said.
 
Uber said since 2015, drivers have earned nearly $80 billion, with an additional $1.2 billion since tips were introduced two years ago. But in its IPO filing, the company said: "As we aim to reduce driver incentives to improve our financial performance, we expect driver dissatisfaction will generally increase."
 
"Maybe if anything good comes out of this IPO … hopefully the public sees it and says, 'You know what? Exploitation of the workforce is wrong' – and holds some accountability," Perry said.

In a statement, Uber said: "Drivers are at the heart of our service. We can't succeed without them." The company added that it will continue working to improve the experience for and with drivers, whether it's through more consistent earnings, stronger insurance protections, or fully-funded four-year degrees.