This story has been updated to clarify that Uber continued to pick up passengers from the JFK Airport amidst a taxi driver strike that was held in response to Trump's Muslim ban, and now also includes the statement CEO Travis Kalanick made about offering legal support to Uber drivers affected by Trump's refugee ban.
Just over a month after Uber CEO, Travis Kalanick, signed onto President Donald Trump's economic advisory board, the company is under fire again for continuing to pick up rides during a taxi driver strike at NYC's John F. Kennedy International Airport. The taxi drivers were protesting Trump's refugee ban, along with other local activists.
From The Washington Post:
...#DeleteUber began trending after Uber tweeted it was lifting surge pricing at JFK International Airport, where thousands had gathered to demonstrate against the ban.
Customers took it as evidence the company was trying to profit off of striking workers. Lyft had paused its surge pricing and continued to operate as well, a company spokeswoman said, but dozens of Uber customers said they would instead turn to that service.
Uber CEO Travis Kalanick is a member of President Trump’s economic advisory group and has repeatedly pledged to work with the president to solve issues related to urban mobility, drawing the ire of activists who say such attitudes enable Trump’s actions. Kalanick expressed concern with the ban in a memo to employees Saturday, saying it would affect “many innocent people,” and that the company would explore how to compensate impacted employees for three months.
In that memo, Kalanick also recognized that his decision to join Trump's advisory board along with Tesla CEO Elon Musk and other tech leaders may have rubbed some people the wrong way. That admission prompted many responses, including this from Eric Butler, an Android software developer at Uber:
. @travisk says OK to disagree so I'll just say this publicly: Resign from advisory group & categorically denounce Trump and these policies. https://t.co/qOiDPE1Och
— Eric Butler (@codebutler) January 28, 2017
In response to Kalanick's tacit support of Trump's administration and the company's response to the airport demonstrations, everyone from Stranger contributor Ijeoma Oluo to actor Jesse Williams called for Uber-users to delete the app. The New York protest was part of a nationwide effort to occupy airports across the country. About 3,000 demonstrators protested inside the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport on Saturday evening.
In response to Uber's decision, the company's main competitor Lyft, issued a statement supporting protesters. Lyft co-founders John Zimmer and Logan Green issued this letter on the company's website:
We created Lyft to be a model for the type of community we want our world to be: diverse, inclusive, and safe.
This weekend, Trump closed the country's borders to refugees, immigrants, and even documented residents from around the world based on their country of origin. Banning people of a particular faith or creed, race or identity, sexuality or ethnicity, from entering the U.S. is antithetical to both Lyft's and our nation's core values. We stand firmly against these actions, and will not be silent on issues that threaten the values of our community.
We know this directly impacts many of our community members, their families, and friends. We stand with you, and are donating $1,000,000 over the next four years to the ACLU to defend our constitution. We ask that you continue to be there for each other - and together, continue proving the power of community.
News of Lyft's donation to the ACLU (the organization's lawyers were responsible for helping detainees held at airports across the country) prompted this response on Twitter:
“Uber Everywhere” rapper @Madeintyo announces he will not be using Uber anymore due to the #DeleteUber boycott. https://t.co/Vt1GpXlfXp pic.twitter.com/QN4BLSWYCH
— The FADER (@thefader) January 29, 2017
UPDATE, 4 PM: Uber CEO Travis Kalanick announced that he would talk with Trump and the company would provide legal support and establish a $3 million legal defense fund for threatened drivers. He is e-mailing this message to drivers, according to the company's website:
At Uber we’ve always believed in standing up for what’s right. Today we need your help supporting drivers who may be impacted by the President’s unjust immigration ban.
Drivers who are citizens of Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria or Yemen and live in the US but have left the country, will not be able to return for 90 days. This means they won’t be able to earn money and support their families during this period.
So it’s important that as a community that we do everything we can to help these drivers. Here’s what Uber will do:
• Provide 24/7 legal support for drivers who are trying to get back into the country. Our lawyers and immigration experts will be on call 24/7 to help.
• Compensate drivers for their lost earnings. This will help them support their families and put food on the table while they are banned from the US;
• Urge the government to reinstate the right of U.S. residents to travel—whatever their country of origin—immediately;
• Create a $3 million legal defense fund to help drivers with immigration and translation services.
If you are a driver or a friend or family member of someone who has been affected, please contact us at: https://goo.gl/forms/AIJTivooFxuExX1p1.
Uber is a community. We’re here to support each other. Please help Uber to help drivers who may be affected by this wrong and unjust immigration ban.
TechCrunch noted: "An Uber spokesperson has since confirmed with TechCrunch that the process to determine which drivers will be directly impacted is already underway, though the company will not give a specific timeframe for issuing the compensation."
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