2018 began as a pretty dark year for New York City’s app-based drivers. After years of 70-hour weeks and sub-minimum wage pay, drivers were desperate for livable wage rules. Instead of helping, some city and state politicians were pushing new taxes on our labor and drivers were taking their own lives out of economic desperation, but we refused to give up. And together we ended up winning new rights and benefits that set a new bar for contractor worker rights in America. 

More than 16,000 of us signed a petition demanding the Taxi and Limousine Commission require a living wage for all For-Hire Vehicle drivers in New York. We showed up in force at their hearings and we won the nation’s first law requiring apps like Uber and Lyft to pay drivers a livable, minimum wage – including pay for all of our time on the app and deadhead pay for out-of-town trips. It’s a raise of nearly $10,000 per year for over 70,000 drivers!

 But we didn’t stop at a living wage. We told city council that drivers were being double ticketed for the same offense by two different city agencies. They listened, and in December we won a new law requiring judges to dismiss double tickets. We won vision benefits, flu shots and free telemedicine benefits for app-based and black car drivers – another first! This allows drivers immediate access to a physician from a smartphone 24/7.

 These wins laid the groundwork for the fights ahead in 2019. As Uber and Lyft executives prepare to cash in on drivers’ labor with the companies’ initial public offerings, the drivers who helped build these companies are set to be left out. It will be up to us to fight for the benefits drivers earned.

  As Albany politicians prepare to tax our labor with their sham congestion tax, we need to raise our voices together to call for fair taxation and a level playing field. With the new tax of $2.75, along with existing taxes, the average app-based trip of $20 will be taxed $5. Compare that to the same taxi fare, which will be taxed a total of $3.30 per trip. Meanwhile, the construction and commercial vehicles that really clog our streets are exempt.

 Join us as a dues paying member to keep the wins coming. Already a member? Please help us spread the word!

We’ll also continue our fights against unfair deactivation and leasing practices, and work to address other workplace challenges like lack of restroom access and the mental health issues which continue to claim the lives of our fellow drivers. As long as we stick together, we can win any fight. Thank you for being with us through 2018’s victories and we hope you will stand with us for 2019’s fights.

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Article by Ryan Price

Ryan Price is Executive Director of the Independent Drivers Guild, an affiliate of the International Association of Machinists, which represents and advocates for more than 60,000 app-based drivers in New York City. We’re Uber, Lyft, Juno, Via workers united for a fair industry.

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