A fist, held up in the air against a brick wall with a starburst painted on it.

Rideshare drivers like me take you where you need to go, but there’s much you may not know about our lives. I immigrated to the United States in 2019 from Tlaquepaque, Mexico, and have been a rideshare driver for the past four years. My wife and two children are in Mexico, but I live near Oakland, CA, as a permanent resident with my parents and brother, who are US citizens.

If there are enough rides, I drive up to 14 hours a day throughout the San Francisco Bay Area, a 7,000-square-mile region that is bigger than Connecticut. I am proud to be a driver because I help people get around.

People may not realize the job is also difficult. I drive 300 to 500 miles a day—the equivalent of driving from San Francisco to Los Angeles or San Diego. And I’m financially responsible for car maintenance, like changing the oil twice a month. I use about 11 gallons of gas per day. That gets expensive because gas often costs more than $5 per gallon in California. It can be risky—rideshare drivers regularly drive on the freeway, and some have even been robbed or assaulted. In 2022, at least 31 app-based workers were murdered across the nation while working.

I made good money when I started driving, but the app corporations have been claiming more and more of our earnings over the years. To add to these challenges, in 2020, California passed a measure to classify drivers like us as independent contractors instead of as employees of rideshare companies. The companies spent over $200 million to pass the ballot measure and tricked us into thinking this was for our benefit. Instead, the measure made drivers like us lose critical protections like minimum wage and paid leave. And now it is more difficult to speak up for our rights.

Joining the group made me realize I wasn’t the only one who saw the injustice in our treatment….Now I encourage other workers to organize.

I started to realize that I was only receiving 40 percent of what the rider paid, and the apps were taking the rest. I was frustrated, but I didn’t know what to do. There are 3,000 of us drivers in the Bay Area, but we all work separately. How can we meet up and share our experiences?

Then I met an organizer while I waited for rides at the airport. He told me about a rideshare march and added me to the WhatsApp group of other drivers. My first protest was exciting! I wasn’t sure if the companies would do anything in response, but I got more confident as I attended more demonstrations.

And the group helps us organize and plan peaceful protests, even though we still work on our own. We get into caravans of 60 cars and rally outside the company offices to call attention to what they’re doing. Joining the group made me realize I wasn’t the only one who saw the injustice in our treatment. We also educate new drivers about the struggles we’ve endured, how conditions used to be better, and why we shouldn’t put up with this treatment.

Now I encourage other workers to organize. It gives me hope to be with other drivers who want to see changes, to see that we have public support, and to know we are calling attention to an important issue that affects so many of us.