Uber Drivers and Flight Attendants Both Go on Strike This Week - For Similar Reasons

Workers essential to the gig economy and airline industry have had enough.
Updated April 11, 2024
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Crowd of protestors

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This week, both flight attendants and rideshare drivers are making headlines as they take to the streets in strikes and pickets across the United States. Their actions highlight ongoing issues within their respective industries and underscore the urgent need for improvements in working conditions and compensation. 

Rideshare drivers took collective action demanding higher wages and fairer pay while three separate unions representing flight attendants at major U.S. airlines protested and organized rallies at 30 airports yesterday to push for new contracts and higher wages.

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What flight attendants want

Sidekick/Adobe happy flight attendant passing through seats interacting with passengers

Flight attendants from major U.S. airlines, represented by three unions, led pickets and rallies at 30 airports yesterday. Their frustration stems from the stark contrast between the substantial pay raises awarded to pilots last year and the stagnant wages of flight attendants, some of whom have not seen an increase in several years.

Despite their pivotal role in ensuring passenger safety, flight attendants feel undervalued and overlooked. They demand new contracts and higher wages, arguing that their dedication during the pandemic has not been adequately recognized, and the increasing cost of living due to inflation is putting further stress on their stagnant wages.

What rideshare drivers want

Snapic.PhotoProduct/Adobe Uber driver driving a car with male passenger

Simultaneously, thousands of rideshare drivers went on strike on Valentine's Day, protesting against the exploitative working conditions imposed by companies like Uber, Lyft, and DoorDash. These drivers, often classified as independent contractors, endure long hours and low pay rates, with diminishing earnings exacerbated by cuts in delivery fees.

Faced with mounting financial pressures, drivers are demanding fair compensation for their labor. They seek better pay and improved working conditions to ensure their livelihoods are sustainable and dignified. Drivers of ridesharing apps are considered part of the “gig economy” as they operate as independent contractors. For years members of these groups have been fighting for higher pay, as their wages are easily exploited given they are not full-time salaried members of their companies.

Gig economy workers typically also have fewer protections, meaning companies like Uber and DoorDash can easily profit off their employees without having to give them as many benefits or wages as their competitors.

The group Justice for App Workers says that its members totaling 130,000 will refuse all rides to and from airports today in 10 major cities, creating another potential disruption at major airports throughout the country.

Both want higher wages

Pormezz/Adobe Man getting paycheck

At the heart of both the flight attendants' and rideshare drivers' grievances lies the issue of inadequate compensation.

Whether it's the glaring pay disparity between pilots and flight attendants or the diminishing earnings of rideshare drivers, the common thread is the urgent need for higher wages. Flight attendants and rideshare drivers alike play integral roles in their respective industries, yet their efforts often go unrewarded.

Higher prices, interest rates, and the overall cost of living crisis add to the pressures these groups feel. They provide most of the work and reap little of the reward. Both groups are advocating for equitable remuneration that reflects the value of their contributions and enables them to support themselves and their families.

Bottom line

Yakobchuk Olena/Adobe pilot with flight attendants on board

As flight attendants and rideshare drivers take a stand for their rights, their actions underscore broader concerns about income inequality and labor rights in the modern workforce. The disparities in pay and working conditions faced by these workers reflect systemic issues that must be addressed at both the industry and legislative levels.

By amplifying their voices and demanding change, flight attendants and rideshare drivers send a powerful message that workers deserve to be treated with dignity and respect, and fair wages are non-negotiable. It's time for employers and policymakers alike to listen, engage in meaningful dialogue, and take decisive action to ensure that all workers earn extra income.

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Author Details

Georgina Tzanetos Georgina Tzanetos is a former financial advisor who has been active in financial media for the past six years. She holds a master's in political economy from NYU, where she studied distressed labor markets.