In the Gig Economy, Getting a Pay Raise Means Relocating to a Higher-Paying City & Sleeping In Cars

In the Gig Economy, Getting a Pay Raise Means Relocating to a Higher-Paying City and Sleeping In Your Car

Yes, this is another Uber story. But it’s important.

Photo credit: radcliffe dacanay, CC BY 2.0.

I hadn’t planned on writing two Uber-themed posts today, but I got a tip about another Uber story that merits discussion. This one’s a longread, but here’s what you need to know:

When Their Shifts End, Uber Drivers Set Up Camp in Parking Lots Across the U.S.

Most weeknights, [German Tugas] drives over 70 hours a week in San Francisco, where the work is steadier and fares are higher than in his hometown, Sacramento. So every Monday morning, Tugas leaves at 4 a.m., says goodbye to his wife and four daughters, drives 90 miles to the city, and lugs around passengers until he earns $300 or gets too tired to keep going. (Most days he nets $230 after expenses like gas.) Then, he and at least a half dozen other Uber drivers gathered in the Social Safeway parking lot to sleep in their cars before another long day of driving.

As Bloomberg reports, Uber drivers are leaving their homes and families and going where the work is. They’re also going where the work pays the best. Uber drivers are not allowed to negotiate rates or ask for wage increases, so the only way to get a pay bump is to drive to a higher-paying city. (Meanwhile, Uber is paying a $20 million fine for exaggerating how much drivers can earn in those cities.)

Uber Will Pay $20 Million Fine for Misstating Drivers’ Incomes

Bloomberg reached out to Uber for their response, and it’s telling:

“I personally haven’t spoken to a driver that’s slept in their car,” said Nundu Janakiram, Uber’s head of driver experience. “From my perspective, I think we have such a wide range of drivers, people on our platform, almost nothing I learn about any individual surprises me anymore.”

Maybe we should send Uber a few copies of The Grapes of Wrath or Of Mice and Men.

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