Chicago rideshare drivers rally in Noble Square for better pay amid rising gas prices

CHICAGO (WLS) -- A group of rideshare drivers concerned about safety and wages held a rally outside the Chicago Uber hub in Noble Square Wednesday.

The drivers gathered to protest low pay made worse by rising gas prices. They said that's having a devastating effect on their ability to make ends meet.

The rally promoted the Living Wage and Safety Ordinance introduced by Alderman Roderick Sawyer in February's Chicago City Council meeting.

The ordinance would allow drivers to weather financial storms like increasing gas prices by capping the commissions that Uber and Lyft can take from each ride and using that money to guarantee a living wage for drivers.

Many of the protesters are full-time rideshare drivers. They said they are struggling and looking to the city to regulate the big companies.

"Sometimes I have to if I have $30 in my account, I have to think am I going to feed my family today or am I going to go to work today?" said Uber driver Nicole Taibossigai. "Do I have enough money to put in gas to go even work a full shift or do I have to call somebody to borrow money from them?"

"The gas is really, really high and OK they're charging a little bit more for the passengers but still at the same time, surcharges are going up," Uber driver Rita Vigil said. "We're not seeing that."

The rally also supports a part of the proposed ordinance that would establish a worker safety committee that would track, research and report on safety issues.

The dangers of the job evident as drivers have become the targets of carjackers.

On Tuesday, Chicago police said a rideshare driver was carjacked on South Michigan Avenue just south of Ida B. Wells Drive.

The 70-year-old victim was standing outside of his car when two men came up, threatened him and took his car. The victim was not hurt and no arrests have been made.

Patrick Odebunmi had a similar experience when he was supposed to be carjacked at gunpoint in Chicago last month.

"They pointed a gun at me. They said, 'Hey we don't want to hurt you, we just need your car for a party which is Friday night. So my phone in car, my wallet, I jump out for my safety," he said.

"They fail us. They fail to pay us a decent wage," said Carlos Martinez, rideshare driver. "Meanwhile, our drivers are getting beaten, our cars stolen, we are getting assaulted and they're also failing to take action."

ABC7 has reached out to Uber and Lyft for comment about the wage and safety issues. So far, Lyft said they've added a $0.55 fuel surcharge for each ride that goes directly from riders to drivers to help offset fuel costs. We have not yet heard back from Uber.
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