Uber’s actions during President Trump’s immigration ban Saturday stirred an impromptu wave of people deleting the ride-hailing app from their phones, while the company’s chief rival made a donation to fight the blockade.
Uber angered some users by temporarily canceling surge pricing for rides from New York’s JFK Airport, which taxi drivers were briefly boycotting to voice their opposition to Trump’s “inhumane and unconstitutional” action.
“Surge pricing has been turned off at #JFK Airport. This may result in longer wait times. Please be patient,” Uber’s New York City operation said Saturday night on Twitter.
Angry users viewed the move as a bid to undercut taxi drivers who voluntarily relinquished lucrative fares to join the protest against the temporary detention of foreigners who were denied entry to the U.S. after arriving on planes.
An Uber spokeswoman said she did not know how many people had deleted Uber from their phones. “We’re sorry for any confusion about our earlier tweet—it was not meant to break up any strike. We wanted people to know they could use Uber to get to and from JFK at normal prices, especially last night,” the company said Sunday in a statement.
Hours after the controversy popped, fierce rival Lyft announced that it would donate $1 million to the American Civil Liberties Union, which is battling Trump’s ban on travelers from certain primarily Muslim countries.
Lyft’s co-founders aggressively assailed the Trump policy, while Uber’s CEO was mildly critical.
“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,” Lyft co-founders John Zimmer and Logan Green said in a blog post. “We stand firmly against these actions, and will not be silent on issues that threaten the values of our community.”
In a mini essay on Facebook addressing Trump’s action, Uber CEO Travis Kalanick did not address the #deleteuber movement or the JFK ride policy, but he pledged to address the matter Friday in a pre-scheduled meeting with the president. He said Uber would compensate any affected drivers who are stuck outside the U.S. for three months due to Trump’s action.
Kalanick recently agreed to join a group of American CEOs to advise the president.
“While every government has their own immigration controls, allowing people from all around the world to come here and make America their home has largely been the U.S.’s policy since its founding. That means this ban will impact many innocent people,” he said.
He added: “I understand that many people internally and externally may not agree with that decision, and that’s OK. It’s the magic of living in America that people are free to disagree. But whatever your view please know that I’ve always believed in principled confrontation and just change; and have never shied away (maybe to my detriment) from fighting for what’s right.”
A group representing New York taxi drivers called on Uber and Lyft drivers to join cab drivers in a protest Sunday afternoon at Battery Park City.
“The fight continues!” the New York Taxi Workers Alliance said on Facebook.
Source: USA Today