Digital picket line: Uber and Lyft drivers on strike today
Uber driver Joshua Oh drives in Honolulu, June 6, 2018. Uber is expected to be valued at over $91 billion on Friday when its shares are listed o the stock exchange. | Jennifer Sinco Kelleher / AP

NEW YORK (AP)—Drivers for ride-hailing giants Uber and Lyft are turning off their apps to protest declining wages at a time when both companies are raking in billions of dollars from investors.

Organizers are planning demonstrations in 10 U.S. cities Wednesday, including Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco, and Washington, as well as some European locations like London.

The protests arrive just ahead of Uber’s initial public stock offering on Wall Street, which is planned for Friday. Uber hopes to raise $9 billion and is expected to be valued at up to $91.5 billion.

It’s not the first time drivers for ride-hailing apps have staged protests. Strikes were planned in several cities ahead of Lyft’s IPO last month. Even more cities are participating in Wednesday’s protest.

“Drivers built these billion-dollar companies, and it is just plain wrong that so many continue to be paid poverty wages while Silicon Valley investors get rich off their labor,” said Brendan Sexton, executive director of the Independent Drivers Guild, in a statement. “All drivers deserve fair pay.”

In New York, striking drivers shut down their services at 7 a.m. and planned to remain inactive until 9 a.m.

Drivers in Los Angeles are planning a 24-hour strike and picket line at Los Angeles International Airport.

Also in New York, striking drivers are planning to proceed in a caravan across the Brooklyn Bridge and then hold a rally outside Uber and Lyft offices in Queens.

Strikes are also planned in Atlanta, Boston, Philadelphia, San Diego, and Stamford, Connecticut.

What is the Independent Drivers Guild?

From the organization’s website: The Independent Drivers Guild is a Machinists Union affiliate that represents over 65,000 For-Hire Vehicle drivers in New York City. The IDG is the first non-profit labor organization to negotiate a seat at the table with a rideshare company and the first to offer crucial new protections and essential benefits while building worker power.

We are drivers in solidarity fighting for a better work environment. Together, we are a powerful force to win driver-friendly policies. Together, we have contact with hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers daily. Together, we are a service that generates millions of dollars. With driver activism and solidarity, we will win—and can drive with dignity.

We believe that the power of a union is workers banding together. With the Guild, we can band together and win better working conditions and increase working drivers’ earnings now. If you’re a working driver in NYC, become a voting member, join a committee and let’s get organizing.

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Cathy Bussewitz
Cathy Bussewitz

AP reporter covering energy and transportation.