Shortly after the executive order regarding the “Muslim Ban” was issued on Friday, thousands of people began flooding to airports across the country to protest. In response to the order, the New York Taxi Workers Alliance announced a 1-hour work stoppage at JFK. When Uber continued to offer rides out of JFK, protesters became incensed and started boycotting Uber. What followed was a firestorm of tweets, with the hashtag #deleteuber trending on Twitter. But is this boycott really justified?
To start, I want to say I commend anyone who exercises their right to express dissent – whether it’s towards the government or a corporation. I admire people who participate in shaping their communities. In many countries around the world, including those affected by this executive order, people either don’t have that right or face severe retribution. So we should commend people for being actively involved in causes they believe in, regardless of whether we agree with them or not.
That being said, I’m totally perplexed by this Uber boycott. I don’t even understand why the taxi union boycotted the airport. It didn’t hurt Trump, it didn’t hurt the administration – it left passengers stranded at the airport and cost taxi drivers thousands of dollars in fares. The way I see it, Uber isn’t part of the taxi union, so they had no obligation to follow suit. And the fact that they continued to service JFK Airport during the 1-hour taxi boycott, helping travelers get home to their families, is commendable. More so because they didn’t even charge surge prices, which if they had, would have helped me understand the outcry better.
Those boycotting Uber are also accusing the company’s CEO of colluding with Trump. I don’t see it that way. Uber’s CEO, Travis Kalanick, is a member of Trump’s business advisory committee. He has in the past expressed a willingness to work with “anyone in the world” to “[make] transportation in cities better.” That’s a pretty neutral political position.
Regardless of whether you support the current administration or not, it’s important for the two major political parties to continue working together to shape this country’s infrastructure. The worst thing we can do is shut each other out because of political beliefs. It doesn’t solve anything, it doesn’t help the other side see the error in their ways. Collaboration is the only way to ensure that a government that is supposed to be representative of all citizens is exactly that. Perhaps now more than ever, people have to be open to hearing opinions that are different than their own.
So while I have my qualms with Uber over other issues, I don’t see a need to delete the Uber app over what has transpired over the last few days. I almost pity them for how they’ve continued to try and appease people, with their repeated announcements of financial support for affected drivers, a $3 million legal defense fund, and reiterating their commitment to a diverse, inclusive community. I don’t think they were wrong in continuing to service JFK airport while the taxi union was boycotting. The outcry is completely disproportional. And while Uber’s CEO may be working with the Trump administration, there’s no evidence that he owns a white robe and pointy hat. All of that aside, I do prefer Lyft over Uber. 🙂
Have you deleted the Uber app to boycott the company’s action at JFK? Please comment below.
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