PARK RIDGE, Ill. — A support hub for rideshare drivers who have been attacked or wrongly fired has opened in Park Ridge, with a mission of helping many who believe their concerns fall on deaf ears.
Lenny Sanchez, the director for the Illinois Independent Drivers Guild knows first-hand what it is like to have a gun held to his head after picking up the wrong rider.
“I almost urinated myself. I begged the guy not to take my life because I was working at three in the morning because I needed the money. I had kids and family and I was in complete terror,” Sanchez said.
That happened seven years ago, but it’s a moment Sanchez said he can never forget. This hub aims to help prevent the situations that Sanchez and many other drivers have encountered.
“It’s the first of its kind here in Chicago and we are just really excited. We invited drivers from all applications, whether it’s rideshare or delivery to come out. Come to our grand opening,” Sanchez said.
He said the foremost priority of the hub is to help with deactivation appeals from Uber and Lyft.
“When the driver is unfairly deactivated, there’s no way for them to appeal the process. For 125,000 drivers prior to the pandemic -that’s how many their were- this is their means of income,” Sanchez said.
Driver Basil Johnson said a false complaint was made against him resulted in his deactivation.
“Because I’m a Jamaican. This weed thing with Jamaicans …I don’t smoke weed. I don’t smoke weed. This lady, she lied on me, definitely lied that my car smelled,” Johnson said.
It’s been months since Johnson has been able to pick up a passenger, but actions from this hub give him hope.
Organizers said any driver in the state of Illinois is welcome to seek help if needed.