SAN FRANCISCO – In late September, Earla Phillips got what she described as an irritating email from Lyft. The ride-hailing company was reaching out to drivers, like her, to notify them about a new feature called “priority mode.”

“Turn on priority mode to earn more,” the email boasted. When drivers opted in, it said they’d get a handful of “priority” hours per week in which they’d get more rides than drivers who weren’t using the feature.

Lyft calls its feature “priority mode.” Drivers call it “poverty mode.”

But there’s a catch. In priority mode, drivers must agree to a 10% pay cut.

“I knew that this just was another way for the company to take more money from the drivers,” said Phillips, who was one of Lyft’s earliest drivers in Toronto. “The first week I didn’t even bother turning it on.”

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