It continues to be a challenging time in New York’s for-hire vehicle (FHV) industry. The pandemic has underscored what we already knew: drivers need more power.

It has been nearly a year since the Independent Drivers Guild unveiled our Drivers Bill of Rights at New York’s City Hall and the rights and protections we demanded are needed now more than ever. More than 10,000 drivers signed on in support of our drivers’ bill of rights, yet action is still needed on many of the areas we laid out. The following are two of these critical areas: driver safety and the right to bargain.

The Right to Secure a Safe Work Environment

New York City’s FHV drivers were on the frontlines of the pandemic. While the IDG had some big wins to protect driver safety – from banning pool rides and winning running water restrooms at the airports to requiring masks and compensation for sick and high-risk drivers – more still needs to be done.

We were proud to provide masks, sanitizer, and gloves to more than 10,000 drivers during the pandemic, including livery, taxi, black car and app-based drivers. We also partnered with the NYU School of Global Public Health to study how air particles travel in FHVs and the best practices for maintaining a safe environment.

We have begun training drivers on these critically important practices, but to ensure all drivers get the training and materials they need, we need the app and FHV companies to partner with us.

Also, as more and more drivers return to work, the city and companies must do more to ensure that all drivers have access to the PPE and cleaning supplies needed to protect the safety of drivers, their families and the riding public.

Violence against for-hire vehicle drivers continues to be a problem in New York City. Just this month an FHV driver was shot by a cyclist in an attempted robbery. The city must make these attacks on drivers a priority for law enforcement and the attackers must be prosecuted to the full extent of the law.

Amid the pandemic, New York deemed FHV drivers as essential workers. It’s time that drivers be protected as the essential part of communities that we are. Companies must fund rear-facing dash cams for the protection of drivers and the city and companies must coordinate to ensure our GPS coordinates can be sent to 911 with the touch of a button or voice command.

The Right to Bargain

During this pandemic, unionized workers had better protections and benefits than workers without a union. They had better sick pay, better protection against being fired, better hazard pay and better access to PPE.

New York’s Uber and Lyft drivers deserve the right to unionize and bargain with their bosses to get these kinds of benefits and protections as well. State lawmakers can make this a reality and we need YOUR help to make it happen. Join us at drivingguild.org to get engaged and make your voice heard.

If you haven’t already signed onto our Drivers’ Bill of Rights yet, please do so at drivingguild.org/rights.

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Article by Brendan Sexton

Brendan Sexton is the Executive Director of Independent Drivers Guild (IDG) representing over 70,000 working drivers throughout the for-hire vehicle industry.

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