Amid a nationwide protest over wages, Uber and Lyft drivers swooped in and out of O'Hare International Airport to pick up and deposit travelers as usual Wednesday.
Numerous local ride-share drivers demonstrated against working conditions with a 24-hour strike, turning off their apps and rallying at Chicago City Hall. The move comes as Uber prepares to make an initial public stock offering Friday.
"I have to work seven days a week to make a living," Lyft driver Massoudi Adeyema said while waiting for a passenger at O'Hare. "Saturday I worked for 14 hours."
Last year, Adeyema said, he earned about $60,000 but saw it chewed up partly by expenses like his car loan and repairs.
"It's enough for me but I have to work hard to make it," he said.
As he kept an eye out for his Uber driver, Boston University's Dermot Moran said he empathized with ride-hailing contractors.
"Uber and Lyft are unsustainable models, and they need regulation," said Moran. "I have some moral qualms about using Uber."
Business executive Steven Hastings of Dallas talked economics Wednesday morning with his driver, a longtime Uber contractor.
"He drives now 80 to 90 hours a week and makes $1,200. Four years ago, he drove for Uber and he did 40 hours and made $1,200," Hastings recounted while waiting at O'Hare for a ride. "So he had to double his schedule to make the same amount of money."
That type of wage shrinkage was a common complaint among Uber and Lyft contractors who protested in Chicago, New York, Atlanta, Boston, Philadelphia, and San Diego.
But ride-hailing driver John Greene of Deerfield had no complaints as his car idled in a pickup line at Terminal 3.
"I'm satisfied," Green said. "I have no problems ... everything's good."