It is unfortunate that UBER has decided to wage a million dollar campaign of fabrications when they have only been asked to play by the same rules as every other business in the City of Newark. But, it speaks of desperation when they work to cajole the NAACP into the fray and skew the narrative towards a battle for economic justice.
This issue is not about social justice at all.
Uber provides a valuable service. All we ask is that UBER drivers who service the citizens of Newark submit to strict background checks and pay license fees just like other transportation companies in the City. Our City licenses every business from restaurants to nail salons. It is only fair that UBER be subject to this same standard to operate in Newark.
UBER is worth roughly close to $50 billion. At that valuation, according to financial news sources, it is about as much as the market value of three of the largest automobile manufacturers — many of which UBER drivers actually drive. If, as they assert, there are close to 2000 drivers doing business in the City of Newark, then it would make sense for them to offer to reimburse the costs of the license fees for their drivers to operate at the airport and train station.
I have the highest regard for the NAACP, our nation’s oldest and leading civil rights organization. Their longstanding work and efforts on behalf of the disenfranchised people of this country is invaluable and has inarguably opened the doors for many, if not most, of the successes that we witness today. However, I take issue with their unsubstantiated attack on this matter. I was not contacted by them before they released a statement stating that “no leader who truly considers the public interest would stand in the way of this progress”. It leaves me to wonder whether the organization of W.E.B. DuBois would side with a multi-billion dollar corporation to attack a Black leader.
In response, I ask of the NAACP: Why haven’t you publically you raised the argument of economic justice for the city employees in Atlantic City who are facing a government shutdown in a few weeks? Why haven’t you joined our fight for economic justice against Port Newark, whose hiring discrimination against African-Americans is well documented? Where is the voice of the NAACP on the Supreme Court vacancy when our state has faced such deep racial and economic segregation? Why haven’t you spoken to the media about the ways in which the Governor has cut aid to services that benefit communities of color?
Allow me to clarify my position, once again. This is not about jobs. This is not about denying Newarkers the benefits of UBER or of any rideshare service that they enjoy. This is about presenting a level playing field for all corporations wishing to do business in our City. That, in my opinion, is economic justice.
Ras Baraka is Mayor of the City of Newark