Yesterday, following President Trump's executive order that placed a ban on immigrants from 7 countries with Muslim majorities, protests broke out at major airports across the country. The first was New York City's John F. Kennedy airport, where two Iraqi refugees were detained early on Saturday morning. In solidarity with the peaceful protestors, the NYC Taxi Worker's Alliance, a union made up of 19,000 taxi drivers, stopped service at JFK for one hour, and released a statement opposing the Muslim ban.
Meanwhile, Uber decided to take advantage of the fact that many travelers might find themselves at the airport with no taxis in sight, The Blaze reports. The company turned off their surge pricing and announced the discount via Twitter:
This action was a destructive move to the strike, which would have been made more powerful if all car services had chosen to stand up against the Muslim ban. Uber clearly knew that the strikes were happening, and their choice to have their drivers to keep working, as well as lower fares, was in opposition to the strike, and a slap in the face to any of their Muslim employees who are immigrants to the U.S.
Uber tried to clarify that their actions were not intended to be seen as detrimental to the strikes, by hiding behind the statement their CEO made opposing the Muslim ban, but when you're a part of Trump's economic advisory team, which CEO Travis Kalanick is, it's hard to take a stand against the President. Kalanick's statement, which was issued on Saturday afternoon, seems to grossly underestimate the number of drivers who would be affected by the ban:
"Our People Ops team has already reached out to the dozen or so employees who we know are affected: for example, those who live and work in the U.S., are legal residents but not naturalized citizens will not be able to get back into the country if they are traveling outside of the U.S. now or anytime in the next 90 days."
While the company might only employ a dozen or so Muslims in their corporate offices, there are no doubt many drivers in their larger network of employees who are practicing Muslims. According to Gizmodo, Microsoft reportedly identified 76 employees affected by the ban. Kalanick presented a vague plan to assist those drivers, saying, "we are working out a process to identify these drivers and compensate them pro bono during the next three months." And to top it all off, instead of vehemently opposing the Muslim ban, Kalanick makes a case for why it's fine for him to serve on Trump's economic advisory team.
"I understand that many people internally and externally may not agree with that decision, and that’s OK. It’s the magic of living in America that people are free to disagree."
So, in one day, Uber's CEO failed to stand up strongly against the Muslim ban, and then tried to offer discounts while all the other taxi companies were protesting. Meanwhile, Lyft sent all its users an email stating that they're going to donate $1 million to the ACLU over the next for years, "to defend our constitution.
So, looks like it's time for everybody to clear up a bit of storage space on their phones and delete Uber once and for all.