Over three days, our Mobile Workers Alliance caravan of Uber and Lyft drivers traveled nearly 1,000 miles (916 to be exact) to bring our fight for AB5 and a union straight to Uber HQ and the California state capitol.
Our pilgrimage began Monday morning with a kickoff in downtown Los Angeles, where drivers Linda Valdivia, Mike Robinson and Leonardo Diaz explained the purpose of our trip to the assembled media, and Rev. Cue of the Church Without Walls and other faith leaders from Clergy and Laity United for Economic Justice blessed us as we set about our long journey.
Our first stop was at the famous Forty Acres in Delano, the site of the first United Farm Workers union hall. We were greeted by UFW members and left a wreath in tribute to the brave farm workers who paved the way for our journey and to the memory of Cesar Chavez.
We were inspired by the UFW members we met there, who fought and overcame the same challenges we’re facing today decades ago.
Like farm workers, rideshare drivers are spread out all across the state. Many of us are immigrants, and all of us are routinely mistreated by our employers. Like farm workers, we’re told over and over again that our mission is too difficult, that we’ll never be able to form our union.
But most importantly, like farm workers, we’re going to win!
In fact, it was the UFW who inspired our caravan. In 1966, they marched, on foot, in a historic pilgrimage from Delano to Sacramento to raise awareness of their exploitation and demand their rights.
We next headed to Fresno, where we held a rally with local drivers and more UFW members outside the Fresno Chamber of Commerce. The Fresno Chamber, like chambers of commerce all across the state, has been vocally opposed to AB5, pushing the lie that it will end our so-called flexibility.
We marched on their doors, bringing our handwritten demands that they stop supporting billionaire exploiters and instead stand with workers.
That evening during dinner, we heard from SEIU 521 childcare providers who have also been fighting for fair treatment and respect.
With a full day of solidarity under our belts, we turned in to rest up for a big day in the Bay Area.
With no time to waste, we woke up at 5 a.m. the next morning and hit the road, arriving in San Francisco just before noon, where we met our brothers and sisters from Gig Workers Rising.
Together, we brought our motor caravan directly to Uber HQ and shut down Market Street. As horns honked and flags flew, we brought our message to the belly of the beast.
Driver after driver shared their story of being abused and exploited by Silicon Valley hotshots who think they’re above treating workers with basic dignity. For more than an hour, traffic stopped and we made our message crystal clear – “AB5 and a union.”
We were joined by presidential hopeful South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg, who said, “Do we want a future where there are no protections, no unions, and workers are not treated as workers? Or do we want a future with justice?”
Satisfied that Uber heard our message, we crossed the bay to Oakland for an afternoon of sharing stories and building solidarity at Taylor Memorial United Methodist Church, who graciously hosted and fed us.
On the last day of our caravan, we arrived in Sacramento at 9 a.m. to begin our final stretch toward the capitol. In a line that stretched blocks, with legislators and media watching, we blockaded the streets around the capital.
While most of us held the line in our cars, the rest were joined outside the capitol by AB 5 author Assemblymember Lorena Gonzalez, and State Senators Maria Elena Durazo and Connie Leyva. All three spoke out in favor of Assembly Bill 5, and in support of our movement to raise standards for gig workers across California.
After about an hour, we took our motorcade to Anunciation Greek Orthodox Church, where we planned next steps to grow our movement at the first ever Statewide Rideshare Drivers Congress.
In small groups, we learned how to win over naysayers who doubt our fight, plotted out ways to bring more drivers into MWA and were once again joined by Assemblymember Gonzalez and Senator Durazo, which was a great boost for those of us who were in our cars during the morning and missed their words of inspiration and confidence.
With our mission complete, we said goodbye to our Gig Workers Rising brothers and sisters and set off on the long journey home, sharing one last meal together along the way.
AB5 is set to be heard in the appropriations committee on Friday, before heading to the senate for a vote and then, hopefully, on to the governor’s desk.
Once the governor signs the bill, we’ll enter a whole new world, no longer contractors, we’ll be employees and the next step will be to forge our union and with it, the ability to bargain as equals with Uber and Lyft for a contract that provides us with the wages, benefits, protections and flexibility that we deserve.
There’s a long road between now and then, but, like the farm workers who inspired us, we know that the fight is worth it and we won’t give up until we win.
For now, it’s up to us to build power by growing our movement. Talk to the drivers you know, tell them about our fight and send them to https://mobilealliance.org/join-the-fight to sign up!
Press From Our Caravan