The Independent Drivers Guild (IDG) welcomes and congratulates incoming Taxi and Limousine Commission (TLC) Chairwoman Aloysee Heredia Jarmoszuk and calls on her to take immediate action to address the economic crisis affecting thousands of app-based drivers across the city. The IDG is a worker advocacy organization representing more than 80,000 app-based drivers in New York City and is an affiliate of the Machinists Union.

“We welcome Aloysee Heredia Jarmoszuk as the new Taxi and Limousine Commissioner and look forward to working with her, starting with immediate action to address the economic crisis facing thousands of ride-hail drivers in our city,” said Brendan Sexton, Executive Director of the Independent Drivers Guild. “Uber, Lyft and Via are scamming drivers out of fair pay, pushing thousands of families into economic disaster. Drivers are losing their livelihoods, having their cars repossessed, and risking eviction. Our crisis counselors are overwhelmed. The new Commissioner must act quickly to hold the app companies accountable and stand up for New York’s hardworking for-hire vehicle drivers.”

In response to city utilization rules, Uber and Lyft are discriminatorily locking thousands of drivers out of the apps for minutes, hours, and days at a time to avoid paying them a fair wage. The IDG warned the TLC about the app company violations for months, but the Commission failed to take action.

In June, IDG wrote to the TLC that Lyft was manipulating access to the app for New York City drivers to avoid paying them in compliance with city rules. The Guild called on the city to take aggressive enforcement action, warning that without enforcement other apps may follow suit. IDG members testified before the TLC on this issue in July, with drivers sharing their personal stories of how Lyft’s violation of the rules was destroying their livelihoods. IDG also called attention to the fact that Lyft was using this policy to further enrich the company by giving preferential access to drivers who pay them upwards of $400 per week to rent a vehicle from Lyft’s Express Drive program. The Guild warned that failure to act would lead to more and more of this brazen exploitation.

The TLC failed to act despite its clear opportunity to do so in its summer rulemaking, so in September the Guild demanded a Drivers’ Bill of Rights and called for the TLC to be abolished and replaced with a body with greater accountability. Just days later, the Guild’s warnings proved to be true. In September, Uber announced in an email to drivers that it would indeed begin the same practice to flout the city’s pay rules. In response, IDG organized the largest gig worker protest to date in the United States with thousands of drivers coming together to slow New York City’s rush hour traffic to a near standstill with a slow protest procession over the Brooklyn Bridge, up to Gracie Mansion and to Uber’s headquarters. Still, the city has failed to act and now thousands of drivers are suffering the consequences.

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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