The hashtag #DeleteUber was trending through much of the weekend on Facebook and Twitter after many accused the ride-hailing company of profiting in the wake of President Donald Trump’s immigration ban.
The New York Taxi Workers Alliance called for a halt on rides to JFK to protest the fact that citizens from seven predominantly Muslim countries were being detained at the airport. During the taxi strike, Uber lifted its surge pricing and continued to drive passengers to the airport.
Roger Stone, an advisor to Trump, praised the company for breaking the strike:
— Roger Stone (@RogerJStoneJr) January 29, 2017
The pro-Trump narrative was compounded by a statement to employees made by the company’s chief executive, Travis Kalanick.
The statement said that the company would “partner with anyone in the world as long they’re about making transportation in cities better,” and explicitly encompassed the Trump administration. Kalanick serves as part of a Trump business advisory group, the President’s Strategic and Policy Forum.
“We’ve taken the view that in order to serve cities you need to give their citizens a voice, a seat at the table,” Kalanick said after receiving backlash.
In an attempt at damage control, Kalanick sent the following email to the company’s employees on Saturday:
Judging from the harsh tone that several tweets took, it may take more than that to win back customers—especially in New York:
— Kate Berg (@katebergie) January 29, 2017
— Barb Chamberlain (@barbchamberlain) January 29, 2017
Just did it. Uber deleted and sign out. Was a cab driver in NYC in the old days. Time to support the Hacks again. #deleteuber
— Richard Schiff (@Richard_Schiff) January 29, 2017
— Tom Klem (@TKlemNYC) January 29, 2017
— lee j. (@flwrwrk) January 29, 2017
Uber denied that it was trying to break the strike by ending its surge pricing and offering rides to and from JFK:
Last tweet not meant to break strike. Our CEO’s statement opposing travel ban and compensating those impacted: https://t.co/joWvPvux9J
— Uber NYC (@Uber_NYC) January 29, 2017
On Sunday, Kalanick followed up with another Facebook post, in which he vowed to “create a $3 million legal defense fund to help drivers with immigration and translation services.”
In the post, Kalanick said he would “urge the government to reinstate the right of U.S. residents to travel—whatever their country of origin—immediately.”