A few dozen drivers for Uber and Lyft gathered Wednesday morning at Sea-Tac Airport to talk about low pay in advance of Uber's highly anticipated initial public offering later this week.
The "speak out" event was organized by Teamsters 117 and its App-Based Drivers Association. It coincided with driver strikes in 10 other cities around the country.
Seattle-area drivers did not turn off their apps in protest. But the Teamsters did release a report Wednesday outlining how Uber and Lyft drivers are taking smaller shares from rides than they were in 2016.
During the rally at Sea-Tac, drivers told stories about how they've seen their take-home pay decrease over time. They also talked about being unfairly de-activated from the app and feeling like the companies provide little recourse for driver complaints.
Many wore green shirts or stickers that said, "Make Uber Jobs Good Jobs." They gathered around a large sign sporting a quotation from Uber's IPO prospectus filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission in April: "As we aim to reduce driver incentives to improve our financial performance, we expect driver dissatisfaction will generally increase."
"We want to educate our public," said Abd Shire, who has been driving for Uber since 2012. "Uber is mistreating their drivers."
Uber and Lyft have long held that the drivers who use their platforms are independent contractors. In exchange for drivers providing their own vehicles and paying their own maintenence costs, the companies provide a platform that drivers can use any time to connect with riders.
That relationship has led to companies to clash at times with local governments. A law that would allow drivers for app-based companies to unionize in Seattle has been tied up in court for years.
Shire and other drivers at the Sea-Tac rally said the companies should be obligated to do more for drivers, many of whom drive full time.
Another driver organization, Drive Forward Seattle, disputed the Teamsters report in a written statement.
"Many drivers appreciate the freedom and flexibility to work on their own schedule," the statement said. "Thousands of drivers will continue to be on the road today and in the future because they make a living wage and enjoy the ability to be their own boss."
Drive Forward Seattle was founded by Uber and Eastside for Hire and has orgnized against several efforts to regulate ride share companies.