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Protesters barricade Uber offices: ‘No business as usual’ on inauguration day

Saheli January 20, 2017 Business Comments Off on Protesters barricade Uber offices: ‘No business as usual’ on inauguration day

Uber’s San Francisco offices were the site of a protest against Donald Trump.

Anti-Trump protesters barricaded the headquarters of Uber in San Francisco on Friday morning to call attention to Uber CEO Travis Kalanick’s “collaboration” with the new administration on Trump’s inauguration day.

Protesters blocked traffic outside the ride-hailing company’s main office with a giant banner reading: “Uber collaborates with Trump”, while others used PVC piping and chains to blockade the entrances to the building.

“Travis Kalanick is collaborating with the Trump administration by being part of Trump’s advisory council,” said Sarah Nelson, one of the protesters. Kalanick, along with Tesla’s CEO, Elon Musk, and other business magnates, joined the President’s Strategic and Policy Forum following the election.

“If the Trump regime follows the same policies as Uber, then we’re all in for a very bad four years,” she added.

Uber has long faced criticism for classifying its drivers as independent contractors rather than employees, a distinction that prevents them from unionizing or receiving benefits such as the minimum wage, overtime, and workers’ compensation. On Thursday, the company agreed to pay $20m to settle a Federal Trade Commission claim that it misled drivers over how much they would earn.

“As a company we’re committed to working with government on issues that affect riders, drivers and the cities where we operate,” an Uber spokesperson said in a statement responding to the protest. “Just as we worked with the Obama Administration, we’ll work with the Trump Administration, too.”

Other protesters said they wanted to draw attention to how the tech industry and sharing economy companies have gentrified San Francisco and exploited workers.

“What we are seeing from the Trump administration is that corporate America and the government of the United States of America is becoming one and the same,” said Brihannala Morgan, a 35-year-old environmental campaigner protesting outside the Uber headquarters. “The companies throwing support to Donald Trump are showing they don’t share the values of San Francisco or the United States.”

Morgan said it appeared that 16 people were arrested, though she was not taken into custody. She noted that she was recently priced out of San Francisco and noted that Uber has helped contribute to rising rents and displacement.

“Having organizations like Uber come in buying huge office spaces in low-income communities is hiking up rent prices and is just fundamentally opposed to the values we have in the Bay Area,” she said, adding, “Uber is replacing strong union jobs that are poor paying and make below minimum wage and don’t provide security.”

Dana Perls, a 36-year-old nonprofit worker, said, “Uber is supporting Trump and Uber is destroying the fabric of the Bay Area … Uber has done the opposite of investing in the community.”

She noted that Uber drivers don’t earn enough to sustain a family.

“We want business in California and across the country to support people and not to support a fascist leader like Trump.”

The Uber protest was one of several around San Francisco on Friday morning. Protesters also blocked the Wells Fargo headquarters, a financial district building partially owned by Trump, and the tracks of Caltrain, a commuter railway that connects San Francisco with Silicon Valley.

The San Francisco police department did not have details on arrests or charges against any of the protesters, but said a “mass arrest” had occurred at the Uber protest.

Officers remained stationed outside the office after the arrests. Protesters plastered signs on a nearby building that read: “Uber collaborates. We resist.”

“I apologize to the Uber employees that attempted to get into the building today,” said Nelson. “We understand that people are trying to work, but today there is no business as usual.”

[Source:-The Guardian]

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