The drivers said the companies had cut their pay without notice, reduced their ability to work by adding too many drivers and are difficult to contact when there’s a problem.
Commissioner Nick Fish told the crowd the city should establish a new transportation and wage board so drivers, customers, the city and the companies can deal with these issues.
“First they operated illegally, then went to Salem to try to prevent us from enforcing local standards. Then we learned about Greyball, the use of technology to evade regulators. Then Uber failed to disclose a massive data breach,” Fish said, listing issues Portland has had with Uber in the past.
“This is not the model of a good corporate citizen.”
Uber issued a statement saying its business has provided a flexible job opportunity to thousands of Portlanders — an opportunity that didn’t exist before.
“We regularly engage driver-partners and are constantly working to improve their experience using our app,” Uber’s statement said.
“Today’s gathering was organized by taxi-affiliated special interest groups, not by ride share drivers.”
As of April 1, there were roughly 6,000 active Uber driver-partners in Portland.
Lyft issued its own statement, also saying the city did not need a transportation board.
“The City of Portland has an existing regulatory body that oversees ridesharing companies,” Lyft officials said. “We look forward to continuing to work collaboratively with the City of Portland on issues related to (drivers).”
Full-time Portland State University student, Owen Christofferson, estimates he works between 15 to 40 hours a week for the ride services.
He said his wages were cut 25 percent with no warning.
“It was devastating for drivers,” Christofferson said. “We have no structure of accountability for these companies, and we have no way of making our voices heard.”
The drivers were organized by the Oregon AFL-CIO. The union has been battling ride-hailing businesses since they arrived in Portland three years ago, disrupting the taxi industry.