New York City could be the first in the nation to set a livable wage rule that applies to drivers for apps like Uber and Lyft, as well as other for-hire vehicle drivers. For over a year, app-based drivers with the Independent Drivers Guild(IDG) have been fighting for a livable wage. More than 16,000 drivers signed the Guild’s petition calling for a regulated minimum pay rate that would mean a raise of 37% for app-based drivers, along with other rules, like prohibiting apps from taking more than 20% of the fare and deadhead pay.

The IDG proposal also had support from labor and community leaders, including the International Association of Machinists, the New York City Central Labor Council, The Black Institute and the New York Immigration Coalition. The IDG filed a formal rulemaking petition in February with New York City’s Taxi and Limousine Commission (TLC) proposing these groundbreaking new pay rules.

The TLC responded in May, stating it plans to put forward rules on industry-wide for-hire vehicle driver income and pay transparency later this summer. The Commission stated it “is in the midst of analyzing various methodologies and will include the one you proposed in this process.”

We are pleased that after many months of research and discussion the city will be acting this summer. Meanwhile, in City Council, legislators are considering a number of bills related to for-hire vehicles. There are positives and negatives to each of the bills and the Guild is meeting with officials in an attempt to improve the proposals. One bill, introduced by the new FHV Committee Chairman Ruben Diaz Sr, is particularly problematic though, as of this writing (5/21).

More than 300 IDG members marched on City Hall in late April to protest Intro Bill 838, which included a new $2,000 per year tax on app-based drivers and a rule prohibiting drivers from working with more than one app or an app on the side, along with other FHV work. Under intense pressure from the IDG, the bill was updated to remove the $2,000 tax, but other problematic provisions were added, including a trip quota that could force companies to do mass layoffs of thousands of drivers.

The new version, Intro 838a, also would require app-based vehicles to put big, permanent numbers on their vehicles like taxis. Another bill calls for a vehicle cap, but the IDG is urging a cap on new TLC universal driver licenses as the labor-friendly alternative. Vehicle caps will lead to increased leasing costs for drivers who are already struggling.

The City Council is aiming to move on these bills in June, so sign up at drivingguild.orgto stay informed.

Article by MaryGrace DeCotiis

MaryGrace DeCotiis is Organizing Director of the Independent Drivers Guild - a Machinists Union affiliate representing more than 60,000 app-based drivers in New York City.

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