New research from Georgetown University has codified what many Uber drivers have felt for years: it’s hard to get ahead when your boss is an algorithm.
Researchers published their study on Thursday, after more than two-years of interviewing 40 drivers in the Washington D.C. area. The results aren’t meant to be representative of the thousands of “partners,” as Uber calls them, working on the platform worldwide.
Rather, “the data collected and reviewed here is evidence of the structures of work that Uber drivers navigate and the kinds of worker challenges that many face in one of the most visible platform workplaces,” the authors said. The anecdotes also corroborate stories told to Business Insider from multiple drivers across the country in recent months.
Among the litany of frustrations with Uber — both with the company and app — expressed by drivers in interviews was one glaring problem: half of the drivers interviewed take home so little per month, less than $2,000 per month, that they fall below the government’s definition of poverty.
“Since it has been operating in Washington, D.C., Uber has reduced its base rate for drivers several times, added a rider safety fee (and then increased it, calling it