Uber Drivers, Other Workers Protest For $15 Minimum Wage | WBEZ
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Uber Drivers, Other Workers Protest For $15 Minimum Wage

Uber drivers, fast food workers, health aides and airport employees are striking or demonstrating in several cities across America on Tuesday, in what organizers are describing as a "day of disruption" calling for a higher minimum wage.

For years, several groups have held protests in support of a $15 minimum wage. But the "Fight for $15" organizers planning Tuesday's event say this is the first time Uber drivers are joining in the demonstrations.

Several of the protests have led to arrests. In New York, about two dozen chanting protesters were detained after linking arms and sitting on a street in Manhattan, The Associated Press reports. About 350 people total were at that protest, according to the news service.

In Minnesota, a group of activists, including home care workers and fast food workers, were arrested after reportedly sitting in the road.

Other demonstrations are planned at O'Hare International Airport in Chicago and at Boston's Logan Airport, and fast food workers in more than 300 cities plan to walk off their jobs, organizers say.

Hospital workers, home care and health aides, and university employees are also participating in the demonstrations, according to the "Fight for $15" group.

And then there are the Uber drivers, joining in to push for a higher minimum wage in general, and for greater protections for Uber drivers in particular.

The battle over how Uber drivers are classified — as contractors versus employees — has been waged in localities across the country. And it's not just an issue in the U.S. Last month, a court in the U.K. ruled that at least some Uber drivers are employees, who need to be guaranteed the minimum wage and get paid breaks.

But it will be difficult to evaluate how many Uber drivers are taking action on Tuesday. While organizers say some will be carrying signs or swapping out their Uber decals for protest images, others are protesting silently.

Terry Williams, who drives part-time for Uber in Pennsylvania, says he's not driving today. Williams says he has a full-time job, in addition to his work with Uber. "Both of them together still aren't enough to make ends meet," he says.

He cites concerns over benefits and protections for workers. Williams says he's done trips for Uber that cost him more in gas than he made in the fare, and there's nothing to protect him from that.

So he's protesting — "My car is parked, and it will stay there until tomorrow," he says.

"I'm sure Uber can tell" if fewer drivers than usual are logged into the app, Williams says. But for everyone else, he acknowledges, "there's no way of knowing."

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit NPR.

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