Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto ‘very disappointed’ in Uber following Trump’s travel ban

“I need to see more interest from them in our communities, both locally and internationally,” Peduto said.

Jasmine Goldband / The Incline
MJ Slaby

Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto isn’t happy that Uber’s CEO has joined President Donald Trump’s business advisory group and that the ride-sharing company continued taking passengers to a New York airport during protests over Trump’s immigration and refugee executive order.

“I was very disappointed by Uber’s conduct this weekend and told their CEO so. Uber came here because of the great talent Pittsburgh produces and the high-tech people we have attracted from around the world,” Peduto said in a statement to The Incline. “We’ve held up our end the bargain, but we haven’t seen much from Uber. This is a two-way street not a one-way. I need to see more interest from them in our communities, both locally and internationally.”

Peduto — typically an advocate for ride-sharing and Uber’s self-driving cars — texted Uber CEO Travis Kalanick to say that he was disappointed, city spokesman Tim McNulty confirmed.

The mayor said he was disappointed with Uber for the “NYC incidents” and for Kalanick’s role as a member of Trump’s business advisory group, McNulty said Monday. McNulty said Peduto also told this to Justin Kintz, Uber’s head of public policy and communications, during a meeting in the mayor’s office Monday.

Over the weekend, protesters took to airports, including Pittsburgh International Airport, following Trump’s executive order suspending the refugee program for 120 days and indefinitely stopping the resettlement of Syrian refugees. People from seven predominantly Muslim countries also can’t enter the U.S. for 90 days, per the order. Peduto attended the protest at the Pittsburgh airport.

In New York, the New York Taxi Workers Alliance called for support by asking drivers to avoid John F. Kennedy International Airport between 6 and 7 p.m. Saturday.

So when Uber then said it was turning off surge pricing — aka lowering prices around JFK Airport — many saw it as a lack of support, sparking the #DeleteUber hashtag.

An Uber spokesperson told The Incline on Monday that the company was “mortified that people believe we turned off surge around JFK to in any way affect the strikes.” They then sent this tweet.

In an email to Uber employees Saturday, Kalanick wrote that the company works with “governments and politicians of all political persuasions” and that a “seat at the table” is necessary.

“Our experience is that not doing so shortchanges cities and the people who live in them,” he wrote as part of the reason he joined Trump’s advisory group. Kalanick also told employees that he will raise the issue of the ban’s impact on “many innocent people” during the advisory group’s first meeting Friday.

On Monday, an Uber spokesperson stressed that “joining President Trump’s economic council should not be taken as an endorsement of the new administration’s policy positions.”

In the same email, Kalanick said the company was opposed to the ban and was working to help impacted Uber employees and to find a way to compensate drivers who couldn’t work during the ban.

A Sunday email to drivers listed legal support and compensation for lost earnings as ways Uber will help its affected drivers. The company also plans to “urge the government to reinstate the right of U.S. residents to travel — whatever their country of origin — immediately” and will create “a $3 million legal defense fund to help drivers with immigration and translation services,” according to the Sunday email.

Uber launched its self-driving pilot in September in Pittsburgh, and last week, the ride-sharing company donated $10,000 to the Women’s Center & Shelter of Greater Pittsburgh.