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Metro Atlanta rideshare, meal delivery drivers push for city to approve local union

Published: May. 5, 2022 at 11:15 PM EDT
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ATLANTA, Ga. (CBS46) -- Kerfalla Dioubate tells CBS46 news that he’s been driving rideshare and delivering meals since 2018 in order to make a living.

“I saw how much money was in it and saw the fact that you can deliver to people and meet with new, and I liked that experience and I got right into it,” Dioubate told CBS46.

Now, he is constantly in fear of facing deactivation from the apps if a customer complains.

“Whenever a customer reports an order that didn’t arrive, the app, they just deactivate your account and they don’t even ask you anything about it beforehand,” Dioubate complained.

Dioubate explained that delivery drivers’ ‘acceptance ratings’ also go down each time they decline a meal delivery route.

“Some of them are really high miles, and you’re not getting compensated for that, so it’s not fair to you,” said Dioubate.

Felipe Martinez had similar concerns and is now part of the effort to unionize rideshare drivers in Atlanta.

“You get deactivated until they are willing to get back to you, and a lot the drivers sometimes rent their vehicles and they have large loans on their vehicles and now they’re out of work and there is no say for us,” said Martinez who is a board member for the Boston Independent Drivers’ Guild, and recently a new resident of Metro Atlanta. “This is one of the reasons why we believe there should be a rideshare union where the drivers are able to seek collective bargaining and work with Uber and Lyft on the table.”

Seattle was the first city to successfully unionize its rideshare workers, and this growing group is hoping to follow suit in Atlanta.

Monday, their leader, Ken Wainwright, pleaded with Atlanta City Council to help make it happen. He has been frustrated that progress has been slow over the last year, and he’s calling for meetings with city officials.

“Make the meeting. Save lives. Keep jobs protected. If that’s not your priority, you shouldn’t be in this job,” said Wainwright, president of the Rideshare Union Local 404

Meanwhile, drivers say a union would offer more job security, safety, and support.

“We are not anti-big business, we are pro-respect. Drivers in Georgia deserve respect,” Martinez said.

Atlanta City Council leaders tell CBS46 they are researching the Seattle legislation, and have been holding meetings about what an Atlanta rideshare union may look like.

Rideshare company Lyft confirmed that their protocol is to freeze a driver or rider’s account while they investigate complaints internally.

A Lyft spokesperson sent CBS46 the following statement:

“We know it’s critically important to invest in our driver community, which is why we are in constant communication with drivers to improve their experience. We also take rider and driver safety reports extremely seriously and have a process in place to investigate each one before determining the appropriate course of action. If a driver disagrees with the action taken, they can ask for the decision to be reviewed, and if we find that the driver’s account should be reactivated, then we will reactivate and communicate that with the driver.”