Hundreds of people tweeted they are deleting their Uber accounts Saturday amid accusations the company took part in taxi cab strike-breaking in New York during a protests against President Trump's refugee ban.
Cabbies affiliated with the New York Taxi Workers Alliance refused to pick up passengers at New York's JFK airport for an hour Saturday in solidarity with those protesting President Trump's executive order banning refugees and limiting immigration from Muslim-majority countries.
They also sent out calls on social media for Uber and Lyft drivers to join in their show of support for the protests at Terminal 4. The city's taxi drivers are a disproportionately Muslim and immigrant workforce, and many drive for apps in addition to independent for-hire work.
Shortly after the designated strike time of 6 p.m. to 7 p.m., Uber sent a tweet telling customers surge pricing had been suspended.
Since surge pricing increases the cost for passengers when demand is high, suspending it looked to some like an active undermining of the NYTWA's strike. Uber told BuzzFeed News it was aware of the hour of solidarity, which its drivers were free to participate in, and the official strike hour had technically ended 36 minutes prior.
One popular Weird Twitter denizen, @Bro_Pair, tweeted out the following about an hour later.
Others repeated the claim that Uber had actively broken the strike, with some re-posting the full statement from the NYTWA in support of the protests.
"We're sorry for any confusion about our earlier tweet — it was not meant to break up any strike," Uber said in a statement to BuzzFeed News. "We wanted people to know they could use Uber to get to and from JFK at normal prices, especially tonight."
Uber said the tweet about the suspension of surge pricing was intended to alert customers that Uber was a service available at regular, rather than inflated, cost. Uber has received criticism in the past for implementing higher prices during high-traffic times — and for ways its surge pricing affects worker organizing.
Earlier in the day, Uber CEO Travis Kalanick sent an email to employees addressing Trump's executive order with the subject line, "Standing up for what's right." Kalanick is also a member of Trump's new business advisory council.
In the message, he said Uber's "People Ops team" had already reached out to the "dozen or so employees who we know are affected" and that the company was "working out a process" to compensate drivers during the next three months to "help mitigate some of the financial stress and complications with supporting their families and putting food on the table."
Uber maintains that drivers are independent contractors, rather than company employees, a classification that is currently being disputed in a number of courts around the country.
Kalanick also said in the email he would "raise the issue" that the ban "will impact many innocent people" when he attends Trump's first business advisory group meeting in the coming days.
Some tweeted that Kalanick's presence on that advisory group contributed to their decision to delete the Uber app.
For others, it was both the alleged strike-breaking and the cooperation with the Trump administration.
Meanwhile, Uber's rival Lyft announced it would donate $1 million to the ACLU “to defend our constitution” in response to Trump’s order.
A statement from the company’s co-founders, John Zimmer and Logan Green, said they wanted Lyft to be a model for “diverse, inclusive, safe” communities.
“Banning people of a particular faith or creed, race or identity, sexuality or ethnicity, from entering the U.S. is antithetical to both Lyft’s and our nation’s core values,” the statement read. “We stand firmly against these actions, and will not be silent on issues that threaten the values of our community.”