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Uber CEO Travis Kalanick Stepping Down From Trump Economic Advisory Council

03/02/2017 4:05 AM IST | Updated 04/02/2017 2:46 AM IST
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Uber CEO Travis Kalanick is resigning from President Donald Trump’s economic advisory council, according to the company.

Kalanick announced the decision in a memo to Uber employees Thursday afternoon, explaining he wanted to distance both himself and the ride-hailing company from the anti-Muslim executive order Trump signed last Friday.

“Joining the group was not meant to be an endorsement of the President or his agenda” Kalanick wrote, in a copy of the memo obtained by The Huffington Post, “but unfortunately it has been misinterpreted to be exactly that.”

Joining the group was not meant to be an endorsement of the President or his agenda but unfortunately it has been misinterpreted to be exactly that.

Kalanick faced increased pressure from users and employees alike this week over what some saw as a meek response to Trump’s immigration ban. In the letter, he addresses some Uber employees directly, apparently immigrants themselves.

“Immigration and openness to refugees is an important part of our country’s success and quite honestly to Uber’s,” he said. “I am incredibly proud to work directly with people like Thuan and Emil, both of whom were refugees who came here to build a better life for themselves. I know it has been a tough week for many of you and your families, as well as many thousands of drivers whose stories are heartfelt and heart-wrenching.” 

Last weekend, angry Uber users began a movement to #DeleteUber from their phones after the company deliberately turned off surge pricing during a taxi strike at New York’s JFK airport. The taxi drivers were striking in solidarity with the thousands of protesters gathered there to demonstrate against Trump’s immigration ban. 

The movement drove more than 200,000 Uber customers to delete their accounts before Kalanick resigned, notes The New York Times.

Independent Drivers Guild founder Jim Conigliaro Jr. stood by Kalanick’s decision in a statement emailed to HuffPost late Thursday. The group represents around 50,000 Uber drivers in New York City and is an affiliate of the Machinists Union.

“This is an important show of solidarity with the immigrant drivers who helped build Uber and number over 40,000 in New York City alone,” he said. “We are heartened that Uber has listened to the drivers and the community on this important issue that is so integral to the promise of the American dream.”

Here’s a copy of the letter Kalanick sent Uber employees: 

Dear Team,

Earlier today I spoke briefly with the President about the immigration executive order and its issues for our community. I also let him know that I would not be able to participate on his economic council. Joining the group was not meant to be an endorsement of the President or his agenda but unfortunately it has been misinterpreted to be exactly that.

I spent a lot of time thinking about this and mapping it to our values. There are a couple that are particularly relevant:

Inside Out - The implicit assumption that Uber (or I) was somehow endorsing the Administration’s agenda has created a perception-reality gap between who people think we are, and who we actually are.

Just Change - We must believe that the actions we take ultimately move the ball forward. There are many ways we will continue to advocate for just change on immigration but staying on the council was going to get in the way of that. The executive order is hurting many people in communities all across America. Families are being separated, people are stranded overseas and there’s a growing fear the U.S. is no longer a place that welcomes immigrants.

Immigration and openness to refugees is an important part of our country’s success and quite honestly to Uber’s. I am incredibly proud to work directly with people like Thuan and Emil, both of whom were refugees who came here to build a better life for themselves. I know it has been a tough week for many of you and your families, as well as many thousands of drivers whose stories are heartfelt and heart-wrenching.

Please know, your questions and stories on Tuesday, along with what I heard from drivers, have kept me resilient and reminded me of one of our most essential cultural values, Be Yourself. We will fight for the rights of immigrants in our communities so that each of us can be who we are with optimism and hope for the future.

 

This article has been updated with the number of accounts Uber lost as a result of #DeleteUber.

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