Protests over President Trump’s Executive Orders concerning immigration are taking place at major airports across the United States this afternoon, and protestors in New York have found an additional foe: Uber. A surge in calls to delete the Uber app have gone viral across multiple social media platforms. But are they justified?
Uber and Trump Collusion?
Many are angry at a Uber CEO Travis Kalanick for a statement made last week that indicated at least tacit support for the new POTUS–
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 is part of an advisory council to Trump whose stated aim is to improve urban mobility and create job opportunities. CEOs of Disney, Tesla, IBM, and GM are also part of this group, which describes itself as an “Urban Mobility Party” or “UMP”.
Anger that Kalanick had not repudiated the President produced a mini fire-storm on social media and a small protest at Uber HQ on Friday, but the company dug in its heels, stating–
As a company we’re committed to working with government on issues that affect riders, drivers and the cities where we operate. Just as we worked with the Obama Administration, we’ll work with the Trump Administration, too.
A whole internal struggle at Uber is going on now over Trump…you can read about it here (which is where I pulled the quotes from above).
Anger at JFK
But last night the anger toward Uber took on a whole new turn.
In solidarity for immigrants held at border checkpoints, the New York Taxi Workers Alliance announced a one-hour boycott of JFK from 6pm to 7pm last night.
That, not surprisingly, led to surge (high-demand) pricing on Uber. Claiming that Uber was profiting from the plight of refugees, protesters who had gathered at JFK’s Terminal 4 began deleting the Uber app from their phones and urging others to do the same.
Uber responded by promising to financially care for employees affected by the Executive Order and also turning off surge pricing at JFK.
Is an Uber Ban Appropriate?
I will not be boycotting Uber and applaud them for turning off surge pricing at JFK while still offering service to and from the airport. Why? Because there were no taxis and the AirTrain was closed by airport officials (before being eventually re-opened by the governor) for safety reasons. Uber was one of the only ways for protestors to get to JFK.
Further, whether you view Trump as a re-incarnation of Satan or Hitler or a great savior, I love Uber and want to see Uber proliferate and be better than ever. It has transformed the way I travel and the goals of “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” should be met with bipartisan support.
I would love to hear your thoughts on whether you think Uber should be boycotted or not. More generally, is it morally coherent to work with someone on issues of commonality while condemning other actions, like the blanket immigration ban?