A Lyft driver and passenger. Courtesy Lyft

Hailing a Lyft or Uber ride could be difficult Wednesday, with drivers across the country being encouraged to take part in a 24-hour strike as they push for higher hourly wages.

The work stoppage is being planned ahead of Uber’s initial public offering, which is scheduled for Thursday. The strike is expected to affect service in major cities including San Diego and Los Angeles.

The drivers are demanding that Uber reverse a recently announced cut in per-mile compensation from 80 cents to 60 cents, and that both companies guarantee drivers a $28-an-hour minimum pay rate.

The strike is being organized by Los Angeles-based Rideshare Drivers United, which was formed in 2018 following two rideshare work stoppages at Los Angeles International Airport in 2017.

“We provide an essential service, but Uber and Lyft investors are (the) only ones reaping the benefits,” said Lyft driver Karim Bayumi said in a statement issued by Rideshare Drivers United.

It was unclear exactly how many drivers plan to honor the work stoppage.

Lyft issued a statement saying its drivers’ hourly earnings “have increased over the last two years, and they have earned more than $10 billion on the Lyft platform.”

“Over 75 percent (of drivers) drive less than 10 hours a week to supplement their existing jobs,” according to Lyft. “On average, Lyft drivers earn over $20 per hour. We know that access to flexible, extra income makes a big difference for millions of people, and we’re constantly working to improve how we can best serve our driver community.”

Uber issued a statement earlier praising the work of its drivers, noting that “thousands of people come into work at Uber every day focused on how to make (drivers’) experience better, on and off the road. Whether it’s more consistent earnings, stronger insurance protections or fully funded four- year degrees for drivers or their families, we’ll continue working to improve the experience for and with drivers.”

— City News Service

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Chris Jennewein

Chris Jennewein is Editor & Publisher of Times of San Diego.