Four New York City Uber drivers are scheduled to meet on Friday with representatives from the startup to discuss their grievances about a recent 15% fare cut, according to a participating driver and organizer.
A spokesman for the company confirmed that a meeting had been scheduled, but declined to comment on the time and place.
News of the meeting comes less than a day after the Uber Drivers Network published an open letter to Uber co-founder Travis Kalanick and Uber NYC General Manager Josh Mohrer outlining demands and accusing the startup of seeking "world domination at any cost."
Uber announced one week ago that it had reduced Uber X fares by 15% citywide, meaning that an Uber from Midtown to LGA now costs $37.12 on average, compared to $43.67 under the old pricing scale. According to the company, which was recently valued at $62.5 billion, the motivation for the fare reduction is to decrease idling time for drivers who tend to experience a lag in trips after the onslaught of holiday tourists dies down.
However, announcements sent to users last week were sure to point out that the new fares were "cheaper than a taxi" (surge pricing still applies).
About fifteen Uber drivers from across the city met to outline their grievances on Wednesday before drafting the letter, according to a source from the group who asked to remain anonymous until after today's meeting.
"We wanted to unite all of the drivers, and a lot of nationalities represent the drivers—Indian, Russian, African, Pakistani, Tajik, Spanish," said the source. "So it's hard to get them all together. We invited one person from each community."
The drivers have also taken to Typeform to pool drivers from across the city on their concerns.
"We understand that you must be competitive and keep riders happy," the letter reads. "But why must it be at the expense of your 'partners'?"
The letter goes on to reiterate demands voiced at a rally outside of Uber's Long Island City headquarters on Monday:
We demand that the fares go back to the rates prior to the price cuts of the summer of 2014; whereas the minimum fare for UberX is $12. We also demand that Uber grant riders the option to tip their drivers if they so choose to. Lastly, we demand that all Black Car and SUV drivers be given the choice to accept or not accept UberX fares.
Uber corporate released initial data on fare impact on Monday, comparing this past weekend to two weekends ago (last weekend the service was shut down due to blizzard conditions). According to Uber, drivers spent 39% less time without a fare last weekend, and saw a 20% increase in hourly earnings.
But many Uber drivers took to Facebook this week, stating that their earnings had dipped. Worse than the fare cut, one driver said, was the hustle required to get close to his usual take-home.
Other drivers have balked at Uber's refusal to significantly decrease its cut of each fare. Drivers currently give 20-25% of each fare back to Uber, and would like to see that cut reduced to 10%.
An Uber spokesman confirmed that last week's fare cute resulted in an equivalent reduction in commission, meaning drivers still take home 75-80% of each fare.
This week's open letter, published just before Uber agreed to a sit-down, threatens further strikes if needs aren't met. "If you agree to meet with us by this coming Monday, the 8th of February, good things will happen and we shall halt plans of protests and strikes," it reads.
Uber declined to comment on a possible strike, stating instead that, "We've worked hard to create a great service for partners, where they can earn money on their own terms... and we are always happy to talk with drivers about what they'd like to see next."
A spokesperson added that this week's strike saw no reduction in service, and therefore did not have the impact on operations.
Organizers had a more favorable assessment of this week's action. "We think the problem was that most people didn't know about it," the anonymous organizer said. "For two days of organizing, it was a big success."
"Next time we'll have more time," he added. "A lot of people are ready, but we're holding off for the meeting."