Organizers say hundreds of Uber and Lyft drivers in Minnesota shut off their phone apps on Valentine's Day, joining a global one-day protest designed to draw attention to complaints of low pay and other problematic work conditions.

The ride-share drivers are striking across the United States, Canada and Europe in the hopes of forcing the app-based ride-share companies to raise driver salaries, set minimum wage standards and insert greater transparency into how much of each fare the independent contractors get to retain.

"We are in solidarity with the international movement to go offline in protest to Uber and Lyft's unfair pay and treatment of its workers," said Yusuf Haji, who heads a group of several hundred Uber and Lyft drivers in the Twin Cities that is actively organizing the one-day strike in Minnesota. "We are no different than anybody else on this planet who is trying to make a living. So, we have asked all our drivers to go offline the whole day today, on Valentine's Day."

The companies have about 5 million ride-share drivers worldwide, including about 1.7 million in the United States and more than 10,000 in the greater Twin Cities area.

"Despite the headlines, we've seen no impact on our operations or amount of drivers working," said Uber spokesman Josh Gold. "In fact, in Minnesota, there were more trips so far today than there were during the same period last week and more drivers working."

Uber and other companies that rely on self-employed gig workers say those workers appreciate the flexibility of the job. But many gig workers are pushing to unionize, saying it would give them the ability to bargain over compensation, safety measures and other benefits.

"We are constantly working to improve the driver experience, which is why just this month we released a series of new offers and commitments aimed at increasing driver pay and transparency," said Lyft spokesman CJ Macklin. "This includes a new earnings commitment and an improved deactivation appeals process. Now, drivers will always make at least 70% of the weekly rider fares after external fees. It's all part of our new customer-obsessed focus on drivers."

The strike is the latest move for drivers who say they were badly impacted during the pandemic and have since seen their wages decline and their car expenses increase. Many drive full-time and have increased work hours but say they cannot generate enough income to feed their families and pay rent. Some rides, they say, pay as little as $5.

Drivers across the country held midday demonstrations at different airports, according to Justice for App Workers, the group organizing the effort.

During the last two years, frustrated Minnesota drivers have picketed at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport, Minneapolis City Hall and the State Capitol building. They have also worked with legislators, who passed a bill in 2023 that would have created a minimum wage for the drivers.

Gov. Tim Walz, however, vetoed the bill, opting instead to create a task force of drivers, companies and legislators to study the issues and come up with recommendations. The task force met from July through December and issued a report on Dec. 30 before disbanding.

Now drivers are trying to work with the Minneapolis City Council to pass a minimum-pay law. Workers planned to meet with some Minneapolis City Council members again Wednesday night.

Twin Cities drivers say they get to keep only 25% to 50% of each ride but bear 100% of the gas and car maintenance costs for the rides that earn the ride-share service companies billions of dollars each year.

Ride-hailing companies say they already pay a fair wage and have an appeals process in place for deactivations.

Drivers in the Twin Cities said they are tired of waiting for legislators or the companies to act.

"The only impact that can affect Uber and Lyft is when you turn off your app," said St. Paul resident Abdirahman Mohamud, who has driven for Uber for seven years. "Turning off the app is the biggest tool we have to make sure that we are heard." by both the companies and by the state government.

Eid Ali, president of a different driver's organization, the 1,300-member Minnesota Uber/Lyft Drivers Association (MULDA), said his group is not organizing a strike locally. But he said, "We support the workers and support anything that will raise the voices of the workers."

MULDA hopes to continue to work with Minnesota legislators to bring a new bill that would help thousands of local ride-share drivers, Ali said. The hope is to move the recommendations generated by the governor's task force into bills and then into law.

Recommendations include creating a minimum pay of $5 for any ride and setting up a fair and easy process in which drivers who are suddenly removed from a ride-share system can find out why and appeal the decision.

This story includes material from the Associated Press.