Connecticut rideshare and delivery app drivers rally for higher pay, workers’ rights

Rideshare and delivery app drivers in Connecticut demanded higher wages and basic workers' protections during a rally in New Haven Wednesday. The fight comes as drivers face rising inflation, gas prices and safety concerns on the job.
The group met up outside Union Station where they painted signs and marked up their cars, spelling out their frustrations and what they want from companies including Uber, Lyft, Instacart, DoorDash and Grubhub.
“They’re multi-billion-dollar companies, and they give us peanuts,” Ramon Ortiz told News 12. Ortiz has driven for both Uber and Lyft. “We want the companies to be fair.”
Drivers are classified as independent contractors, not employees, which means they’re not subject to minimum wage laws. There's also no overtime, paid leave and health benefits.
Jesenia Rodriguez said she’s been driving for Uber for over five years. But while the price for customers has gone up, drivers’ pay has gone down.
“Drivers are getting squeezed by these big companies, and they need rights so they can fight back, so they can make money at their job,” explained Ken McGill, a volunteer with Connecticut Drivers United, which organized Wednesday’s effort. “It’s a grassroots organization. They’re trying to build from the bottom up to really get drivers together, to really hear what drivers need, and to create laws that help drivers,” explained Ken McGill, a volunteer with CDU.
From Union Station, the crew caravanned around downtown with their signs on display, honking their horns to draw attention to their mission until they reached City Hall. There they were joined by supporters, including U.S. Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-3), who backed CDU's fight for what the organization calls “dignity and standards.”
“I’ll add respect to that. That’s what this is about. This is respect for the men and women who do this job every single day,” DeLauro said as the crowd cheered.
Some drivers pushed for the right to unionize in hopes that will lead to workplace protections.
Others who spoke at the rally focused on safety concerns. One woman told the crowd she's subjected to sexual harassment but reporting it only leads to possible repercussions for her.
“Eighty percent of our income is from tips so women rideshare drivers have a choice: report the restaurant or customer or keep the tip,” stated Alex Johnson who held a sign with the phrase “#MeToo.”
Several speakers said what's needed is a drivers' bill of rights that will protect them from harassment and discrimination and ensure job security.
“Connecticut drivers are suffering,” said Carlos Gomez in Spanish through a translator. “The app companies are playing with our families, with our future.”