Uber has become the target of a boycott because of the company’s ties to President Donald Trump and its decision to lift surge pricing at John F. Kennedy International Airport on Saturday. Critics saw the latter move was an intentional effort to break the solidarity strike that New York City cab drivers were orchestrating in support of people at the airport who were protesting Trump’s recent ban on immigration from several countries with primarily Muslim populations.
Surge pricing has been turned off at #JFK Airport. This may result in longer wait times. Please be patient.
— Uber NYC (@Uber_NYC) January 29, 2017
Uber first came under fire for its ties to Trump in December, when it was announced that Uber CEO Travis Kalanick would be one of 19 business executives serving on an economic advisory panel for Trump known as the Strategic Advisory Council, Business Insider reported at the time.
— k0racle (@koracle) January 27, 2017
Tensions between Uber and Trump protesters intensified earlier this week when Kalanick justified working with the Trump administration during a weekly “all hands” meeting at Uber.
“We’ll partner with anyone in the world as long they’re about making transportation in cities better, creating job opportunities, making it easier to get around, getting pollution out of the air and traffic off the streets,” Kalanick told employees during the meeting, according to CNN. “It’s about the leaders we have to work with around the world, not just here in the United States but everywhere.”
The words fell flat with critics of Trump and the Silicon Valley ride-hailing giant when news of them leaked.
Kalanick and Tesla CEO Elon Musk did publicly criticize Trump’s executive order calling for the immigration ban, and Kalanick has offered to pay all Uber drivers who are unable to return to the U.S. because of Trump’s executive order.
“We are working out a process to identify these drivers and compensate them pro bono during the next three months to help mitigate some of the financial stress and complications with supporting their families and putting food on the table,” Kalanick said on Saturday, according to The Verge. “We will have more details on this in the coming days.”
However, the announcement later Saturday evening that surge pricing was being lifted by Uber in the New York City area in the midst of the protests at JFK airport seems to have undermine any goodwill Kalanick’s other gestures may have earned.
It did not help matters that rival ride-hailing company Lyft donated $1 million to the ACLU to support that organization’s efforts against the immigrant ban.
— stëfanie lyn (@stefkaufman) January 29, 2017
The criticism of Uber got extreme at times, with some Twitter users going so far as to suggest that the company supported or sympathized with neo-Nazis because of its involvement with the Trump administration and its breaking the JFK cab strike.
Uber is collaborating with Nazis. Boycott them. https://t.co/R2u90Bq5N2
— Pixelated Boat (@pixelatedboat) January 29, 2017
If you want to boycott Uber out of principle but choose to keep it because it saves you a few bucks, you’re part of the problem. #DeleteUber
— Simran Jeet Singh (@SikhProf) January 29, 2017
Some took the opportunity to point out other issues they had with Uber.
— Sick Grrrl (@sethfan4eva) January 29, 2017
And at least one celebrity who had formerly been a fan of Uber joined in on the boycott, too.
— The FADER (@thefader) January 29, 2017
It’s difficult to tell what kind of impact the boycott may have at this point, but it is probably safe to assume that Uber is not happy to be the target of such public outrage.
[Featured Image by Spencer Platt/Getty Images]