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Who is Uber Freedom and what do they want?

A new faction of discontented Uber drivers is calling for a nationwide strike all weekend to demand higher base fares and the option to tip drivers.

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    A woman leaves the headquarters of Uber in San Francisco, Calif. on Dec. 16, 2014. Uber drivers are employees, not independent contractors, the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries said Wednesday, Oct. 14, 2015, in an opinion that takes direct aim at the business model for the popular ride-hailing company.
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Hearing your Uber driver complain about the app is nothing unusual, whether it’s about taking a recommended, more time-consuming route, or contending with low demand in local areas.

Now, a faction of discontented Uber drivers across the nation has mobilized – though just how much riders will be affected remains to be seen.

The group, which calls itself Uber Freedom, has called for a strike beginning at 5 p.m. on Friday and running through 10 p.m. on Sunday, according to the Detroit Free Press.

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Here are the drivers’ demands, according to their Facebook page:

A 60 percent fare increase for UberX, the cheapest private car offered

A $7 minimum fare, which varies across cities

A $7 cancellation fee (the cancellation fee for an UberX currently is $5)

An option for users to leave a tip

This is not the first group of drivers rallying against Uber. Last year, another group of New York-based drivers protested after a summer discount cut significantly into their earnings, BuzzFeed News reported. Black car and SUV drivers were also unhappy that the app forced them to accept lower-priced rides.

Labor conditions at the ride-hailing app have come under legal scrutiny in several states in past months. On Wednesday, Oregon Labor Commissioner Brad Avakian ruled that although drivers are freelancers, they are still considered employees, according to The Oregonian.

Uber has disputed the decision, saying that it was based on little evidence from the company and “full of assertions that are plain wrong.”

The company is also fighting a class action lawsuit, where “as many as 160,000 Uber drivers in California could join the case seeking mileage and tip reimbursement from the company, presently valued at $51 billion,” reports Wired magazine.

On social media Friday, sporadic updates from Uber Freedom’s protests began to trickle in, from cities including San Francisco, Dallas, and Detroit.

“There is no Uber movement in Chicago,” commented one user on the group’s Facebook page. “Pathetic but some of us are with it and not driving.” 

“I understand the whole strike issue. I’m sure there will be Uber drivers out there that need the money,” wrote another. “I will keep mine off and drive Lyft all weekend.”

NBC Washington reported this statement from Uber Friday: “We always welcome feedback from driver-partners. Each week, tens of thousands of drivers across the US begin using the Uber app to make money wherever and whenever they'd like."

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