As housing prices and commercial rents hike, Oakland’s community fears that the intervention of Uber cabs will make things worse by accelerating gentrification. In response to the ride-hailing company’s ambitions to expand to the former Sears building in downtown, Oakland’s community started a “No Uber Oakland” campaign.
“While Uber now says it plans to start small, it could eventually bring 2,000 or more highly paid workers into Oakland,” The No Uber Oakland campaign website reads. “If Uber arrives and does nothing to address our city’s affordability crisis, it will set a dangerous pattern for other big tech firms coming into our city and cause displacement and gentrification to get massively worse.”
Another major reason influencing the campaigners convictions on Uber is how the company has been handling its legal and management issues. No Uber Oakland argues that Uber has been ignoring labor laws and rules since their contract-workers enjoy none of the rights and benefits of employees. Oakland’s community relies heavily on transit networks like taxis and public transit systems. Campaigners believe that Uber undermines these established networks in other cities and that, accordingly, it doesn’t belong in this one.
Recent reports on race-based discrimination and neglected sexual harassment complaints on a managerial level have all contributed to the campaign’s convictions that the ride-hailing giant has no place in the community. “Uber consistently refused to release its workforce diversity data until the sexual harassment scandal forced it to promise to eventually do so. Frankly, we’ve seen no sign that Uber understands or cares about Oakland and its values,” they conclude.
Just this week, Uber fired more than 20 staffers after a company-wide investigation into harassment claims and hired at least two high-profile senior executives who will work to set strategy and rethink branding.
But Oaklanders are not just worried about the ramifications Uber is going to have on their community, they’re also worried about the effects that other sharing economy companies will have on them – including companies like Airbnb. “It’s not about preventing techies, per se,” Oakland Councilwoman Rebecca Kaplan said. “It’s about protecting communities from displacement, from wrongful evictions, from foreclosures.”
*Never miss a story like this - subscribe to our weekly highlights and stay up-to-date