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Pittsburghers Protest Uber As CEO Reacts To Public Outcry

PITTSBURGH (KDKA/AP) -- A protest against Uber was held in Pittsburgh on Saturday afternoon as the company's CEO continued to react to public outcry.

According to a release, the protest was to show solidarity for Muslims, immigrants and "our sisters and brothers in the Labor Movement."

There was a backlash against Uber last weekend when the company continued to offer rides at JFK Airport in New York City while city taxi drivers went on strike and refused pick-ups at the airport to protest President Donald Trump's controversial travel ban.

The move was perceived by some as an effort to profit off the protests as more passengers would need to seek alternatives to cabs.

Twitter users started using the hashtag "#DeleteUber" to convince others to delete the app and not use the ride-sharing service in the future.

Uber notes they shut down "surge" pricing, which increases fares when rides are in high demand, during the protests at JFK Airport so that people could leave the airport at normal prices, and said they did not intend to break up the JFK taxi strike.

Many were also upset that Uber CEO Travis Kalanick sat on the president's economic advisory committee. Kalanick initially said on Sunday that he was going to use his position on the council to "stand up for what's right."

Kalanick quit the council on Thursday, however.

Uber released the following short statement regarding Kalanick's position on the economic advisory committee:

"Joining President Trump's economic council was never meant to be an endorsement of the new Administration's agenda, but in reality that's what it became. Travis joined the economic policy board -- along with more than a dozen other CEOs -- in the belief that by having his voice heard he could effect change."

On Saturday, Kalanick also said that his company is buying plane tickets for stranded drivers now that a federal judge has put a hold on President Trump's ban on travel to the United States by migrants from seven Muslim-majority countries.

Laura Wiens, a member of Pittsburghers for Public Transit and the organizer of Saturday's protest, said they believe Uber's public opposition to the ban and subsequent actions are just a reaction to bad press.

"We can celebrate a small victory because Uber [CEO Travis Kalanick] has [stepped down from the economic council], but it was only after massive boycotts of their product. People had deleted their app, more than 200,000 people deleted their app," Wiens said. "And we think that they did it too late, frankly, because people's lives were affected on Saturday."

The Pittsburgh protest was not solely related to the travel ban. The release also says they are protesting because Uber has fought "any attempt to hold it to account to basic standards of safety and liability regulations, labor rights, environmental sustainability, data transparency, and compliance with civil rights laws such as the Americans With Disabilities Act."

Wiens said they would like Mayor Peduto to reconsider Uber's partnership with Pittsburgh.

Uber released the following statement in response to the protest:

"More than ever, it's important that we all support freedom of speech. Like many others, Uber strongly opposes the President's unjust immigration ban which is harming many innocent people, many of whom are drivers. That's why we created a $3 million legal defense fund to help, and why we're offering compensation for lost earnings for any driver stranded abroad. We will continue to stand up for those being hurt by the President's executive order."

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(TM and © Copyright 2017 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2017 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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