Car-sharing service Uber announced it would pay “lost wages” to drivers temporarily restricted from reentering the United States after President Donald Trump’s travel ban on certain Middle Eastern countries.
Trump signed an executive order Friday that temporarily bans travel from seven Muslim-majority countries for 90 days, and further bans all refugees for an extended 120 days, according to the White House’s website. Activist groups like the Council on American-Islamic Relations quickly organized protests at several major airports, including Dulles near Washington, D.C., and Kennedy airport near New York City.
The order specifically states that the new ban doesn’t apply to those who already have a green card, or are otherwise legal residents of the United States.
Uber responded by releasing its own policy geared towards “protecting” immigrants who can no longer provide for their families.
“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,” the internal email, written by CEO Travis Kalanick. “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.”
The multi-billion company plans to pay for any and all legal services for drivers fighting the travel ban. “Our lawyers and immigration experts will be on call 24/7 to help.” Kalanick also announced the creation of a $3 million legal defense fund the organization plans to use to oppose the U.S. government.
The company plans to compensate drivers for potential lost earnings to “help them support their families and put food on the table while they are banned from the US.” Uber also announced it will use its extensive lobbying office in D.C. to oppose the executive order, and work with lawmakers and law enforcement to ensure the nation’s borders are opened “immediately.”
Another internal Uber email cites the “dozen or so” employees it believes are affected by the ban, but states the drivers in question are legal residents of the U.S.
“I understand that many people internally and externally may not agree with that decision, and that’s OK,” Kalanick asserts “It’s the magic of living in America that people are free to disagree. But whatever your view please know that I’ve always believed in principled confrontation and just change; and have never shied away (maybe to my detriment) from fighting for what’s right.”
Some drivers, however, have asserted Uber doesn’t do what’s right when it comes to employees. The company continues to reduce the amount it pays its drivers, recently upping the share Uber claims of fares to 25 percent from 20 percent. Internet boards and Youtube videos recount Uber drivers’ dissatisfaction with the company’s policies, including Uber’s “guaranteed earnings” feature in several big cities.
“They were killing us. Then finally in 2016—this was a big shot—they dropped their rates really low and also raised their commission. For the same distance I was making $20, now I’m making $15,” one driver told Forbes Magazine in June. “Instead, they raise their commission up while also lowering our fare. And so everybody was stuck, because we bought cars for Uber.”
“We messed up our yellow cab industry, because we were tired from the owners. Now, we cannot go back to yellow cab, because we already bought our private cars. If somebody has a $45,000 loan, how are they going to pay for their car? It’s not possible,” another driver asserted.
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