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
Three Day Caravan For AB5 & A Union
Mobile Workers Alliance is hitting the road! From August 26-28, hundreds of MWA members will be taking their cars across California in a historic motor pilgrimage for driver rights.
The journey is inspired by the United Farm Workers 1966 pilgrimage from Delano to Sacramento, led by Cesar Chavez. Like gig workers in California, farm workers were thought to be impossible to organize and their exploitation was taken as a given by the public at large. The UFW proved the doubters wrong and we will too.
Our caravan will begin in Los Angeles and wind through Delano, Fresno, San Francisco and Oakland, with a final stop in Sacramento, where we will hold a first-of-its-kind drivers congress with Uber and Lyft drivers from across the state. We’ll celebrate our victories, deepen our bonds from LA to the Bay and beyond, and plan our next steps for winning a union and the rights and benefits that we deserve.
Along the way, we’ll meet other drivers, union members, politicians and other allies in our fight and raise awareness of our struggle on California’s highways, in the heart of the tech sector and at the capitol.
Interested in joining us? Click the button below, fill out the form and we’ll get in touch.
Mobile Workers Alliance Pilgrimage Itinerary
Monday, Aug. 26
10 a.m. – Depart Los Angeles
1 p.m. – Arrive in Delano and meet with United Farm Workers
3 p.m. – Leave Delano
4:30 p.m. – Arrive in Fresno
5 p.m. – Press conference with UFW, local allies and local drivers
Tuesday, Aug. 27
7 a.m. – Leave Fresno
11 a.m. – Arrive in San Francisco, join drivers from Gig Workers Rising
12 p.m. – Rally in SF
2 p.m. – Arrive in Oakland for driver round table
Wednesday, Aug. 28
7:30 a.m. – Leave Oakland
10 a.m. – Arrive in Sacramento, meet with politicians
12 p.m. – Press conference at capitol
2 p.m. – Rideshare Drivers Congress
5 p.m. – Return to LA
It was a triumphant Wednesday evening in El Monte, as MWA drivers packed the city council chambers to testify about our mistreatment at the hands of Uber and Lyft and ask the city council to move toward a $30 an hour living wage for drivers in El Monte.
When they heard about the challenges the we’re facing and the ways that Uber and Lyft exploit not just drivers, but also the public resources that we all share, El Monte City Council voted to instruct city officials to draft an ordinance establishing a $30 an hour wage for drivers in El Monte!
The $30 an hour is meant to provide drivers with a $15 an hour living wage and $15 an hour for vehicle expenses.
City officials will spend the next 120 days developing the ordinance, and will take driver utilization rates, waiting times, enforcement methods, and models developed by other cities into consideration.
“What happens to us as drivers also affects this community. If you raise wages to $30 an hour, you will be helping families like my own,” El Monte resident and rideshare driver Yadira Orozco said in Spanish during public comment.
Prior to the council meeting, more than 50 drivers held a rally outside city hall, sharing their stories and raising awareness of our demands.
“We’re not asking for the moon,” driver Linda Valdivia said. “All we’re asking for is enough money to live on and enough money to cover expenses. As it stands, we bring all of the capital to Uber and Lyft and they take home the profit.”
With the vote, El Monte becomes the first city in the United States to consider a $30 an hour rate for rideshare drivers. This is a huge step forward in the fight for drivers rights and against gig company exploitation.
We hope that other cities will follow the courageous example set by El Monte and its mayor André Quintero.
While we celebrate this victory, we’re not taking our eyes off the prize. AB5 continues to move closer to the governor’s desk and we’ll be ramping up our efforts in coming weeks to ensure not only that it passes, but that we win a path to a union.
With El Monte, and hopefully more cities, behind us, we’re only getting stronger. When we fight, we win!
For the second time in two weeks, Mobile Workers Alliance headed North to fight for AB5, rights and protections for drivers and a path to a union.
Friday morning, dozens of MWA drivers joined a group of Bay Area drivers from Gig Workers Rising at the Uber Headquarters on Market Street in San Francisco. In front of the HQ, we held a press conference demanding that Uber and Lyft include driver voices in the conversations around AB5 and the future of so-called gig work.
In a recent op-ed, Uber and Lyft bosses claim that they want to change for the better. Yet, they’ve spent the past weeks doing everything the can to fight AB5 – including paying drivers $100 to show up to a protest against the bill. If Uber and Lyft really want change, there’s only one way to get it – AB5 and a democratic, driver-led union.
We see them and we’re calling them out. Prior to today’s action, we, along with Gig Workers Rising, published an open letter in the San Francisco Chronicle to Uber & Lyft bosses that makes our demands clear.
In the letter, we wrote, “It’s time for Uber and Lyft to use the same innovation that made their businesses a verb in daily life to do right by us. That means extending all drivers the living wages and basic workplace protections we deserve. It also means an end to putting the cost and the risk of doing your business on us. Most importantly, it’s time for California’s leaders to give us the ability to bargain through a strong, democratic, driver-led union. We insist on a seat at the table immediately as these discussions are taking place and a meeting to discuss drivers’ core demands.”
We drove that point home this morning, with Linda Valdivia, one of the letter signees, delivering her message in person.
“We the drivers support AB5 and a union. Don’t let anyone tell you differently,” she said. “We the drivers are only getting stronger and our voices are getting louder. It’s time for Uber and the other rideshare companies to meet with us — we’re ready.”
We then delivered a hard copy of our letter to Uber staff and concluded with some chanting around the building – to remind them that the real power is in the streets.
Cientos de conductores de viajes compartidos de todas partes de California llegaron al capitolio del estado la semana pasada para cabildear a los legisladores para que aprueben el Proyecto de Ley AB-5 y los conductores tambien hicieron a conocer su apoyo a los derechos sindicales para todos.
La acción comenzó el martes 9 de julio por la mañana, cuando los conductores se reunieron con funcionarios electos clave, como la Oficina del Gobernador de California, la asambleísta autora de la AB-5 Lorena González, el asambleísta Miguel Santiago y el asambleísta Ash Kalra.
Más tarde en la noche, dos autobuses llenos de conductores de la Alianza de Trabajadores Móviles (MWA) salieron de Los Ángeles con rumbo a Sacramento para un día completo de cabildeo de los legisladores en apoyo de la AB-5.
El proyecto de ley histórico pondría fin a las compañías de aplicaciones móviles que utilizan el estatus de “contratista independiente” para eludir las leyes laborales y negarles a los conductores sus derechos, dando derecho a los trabajadores a salarios mínimos, beneficios, protecciones de empleo y los derechos para formar su union.
Nos acompañaron compañeros conductores de Gig Workers Rising de la área de la Bahía de San Francisco, miembros de sindicatos de diversas industrias y trabajadores de comida rápida de Lucha por $15, todos unidos en torno a la demanda de que los legisladores apoyen la AB-5 y un camino hacia porder formar una union.
Mientras un grupo de miembros de la Alianza MWA emitió comentarios públicos durante la audiencia del proyecto de ley en la Comisión de Trabajo, Empleo Público y Jubilación, docenas de nosotros nos hicimos cargo de los pasillos de la capital, visitando a legisladores del sur de California para pedirles su apoyo. Gig Workers Rising hizo lo mismo con los legisladores del norte de California.
Después de la audiencia, en la que el comité votó 3-1 para promover el proyecto de ley, cientos de simpatizantes de la AB-5 se reunieron frente al edificio del capitolio, donde escuchamos a legisladores, líderes laborales y nuestra propia miembra de la Alianza MWA, Linda Valdivia.
“Sabemos que podemos tener un salario digno, y beneficios y flexibilidad, y todo comienza con una voz real en el trabajo”, dijo Linda. “¡Empieza con un sindicato!”
Después de doce horas sólidas de lucha por nuestros derechos y con AB5 un paso más cerca de la ley, abordamos los autobuses de regreso a Los Ángeles con la promesa de que volveremos cuando el proyecto siga avanzando en el proceso legislativo.
Hundreds of rideshare drivers from across California descended on the state capitol this week to urge lawmakers to pass Assembly Bill 5, and renew our call for union rights for all.
Action kicked off Tuesday morning, as drivers met with key elected officials including the Office of the California Governor, AB 5 author Assemblymember Lorena Gonzalez, Assemblymember Miguel Santiago, and Assemblymember Ash Kalra.
Later in the evening, two busloads of Mobile Workers Alliance drivers left Los Angeles at midnight to head to Sacramento for a full day of lobbying legislators in support of AB5.
The landmark bill would put an end to app companies using “independent contractor” status to skirt labor laws and deny drivers their rights, entitling gig workers to minimum wages, benefits, employment protections and collective bargaining rights.
We were joined by fellow drivers from Gig Workers Rising in the Bay Area, labor union members from a variety of industries and fast food workers from Fight for $15 – all united around the demand that legislators support AB5 and a path to a union.
While a group of MWA members gave public comment during the bill’s hearing in the Labor, Public Employment and Retirement Committee, dozens of us took over the halls of the capitol, visiting legislators from Southern California to ask for their support. Gig Workers Rising did the same for Northern California legislators.
After the hearing, in which the committee voted 3-1 to advance the bill, hundreds of AB5 supporters rallied outside the capitol building where we heard from legislators, labor leaders and our own MWA member, Linda Valdivia.
“We know that we can have a living wage, and benefits and flexibility – and it all starts with a real voice at work,” Linda said. “It starts with a union!”
After twelve solid hours of fighting for our rights and with AB5 one step closer to law, we boarded the buses back to LA with the promise that we’ll be back as the bill continues to move through the legislative process!
Uber and Lyft are on the defensive. Earlier this month, the bosses at both companies published a joint op-ed that acknowledged the many issues that drivers have been calling out for years and made some vague statements about making things better for drivers.
This seeming about-face by the companies was immediately followed by this:
Uber and Lyft are asking drivers to contact their legislators and oppose AB 5, a bill that would put an end to the misclassification of drivers as independent contractors and entitle them to the same minimum wage, benefits and employment protections that any other California employee receives.
Mobile Workers Alliance drivers weren’t about to stand for this. Instead, we organized a rally of dozens of drivers and Fight for $15 fast food workers outside the Lyft hub in downtown Los Angeles.
Our message was clear, “We speak for ourselves and we support AB 5.”
Drivers spoke out a press conference, while others lined the street with their cars bearing MWA flags and signs. After the press conference, we attempted to confront Lyft management at the hub, but they refused to speak to the drivers who make their company billions.
Instead of sending the boss’s message to legislators, we’ve got send ours instead. Use this link to send a message to your local California legislators and say that you support AB 5. It only takes a few clicks. Email your legislators
Hundreds Mobile Workers Alliance members driving for Uber and Lyft in the Los Angeles region took part in a massive all-day protest to raise awareness of our exploitation by these billion dollar app companies and of how our fight is the same as other low-wage workers.
The mass action began in the morning with an Uber hub take-over in the West Adams neighborhood. Joined by Fight for $15 fast food workers and SEIU 721 members, we descended onto the hub in a huge line of vehicles, all decorated with Mobile Workers Alliance car flags and placards.
As we took over the hub, we unveiled our demands of a $30/hour living wager, a roll-back of Uber’s recent 25% rate cut and an end to arbitrary driver deactivations.
“Uber’s entire business would be impossible without drivers,” said Linda Valdivia, a rideshare driver and MWA member. “We are the reason Uber and Lyft make millions. Yet the majority of Uber and Lyft drivers can work 50, 60, 70 hours a week and still earn less than minimum wage. This is wrong. it’s unjust. And it should be illegal.”
Wes followed up the Uber take-over with a “motor march” to a McDonald’s restaurant in the Crenshaw District neighborhood nearby. We drove behind a large procession of fast food workers, child care providers, home care workers and janitors who were all part of the “Fight for $15” movement to raise the national minimum wage to at least $15/hour.
As those workers took over the inside of the restaurant, we took over the drive through and parking lot in solidarity, shutting down the restaurant for the day.
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