Hello to all. Summer is officially over, the kids are back at school, and soon the changing colors will signal the coming of the holiday season. A lot has been happening at The Black Car Fund and there have also been some critical developments in other parts of the country that I will touch upon in this month’s article. Let’s jump right into it.

I am proud to finally announce that The Black Car Fund was selected as a winner of the third annual Mitchell mPower Awards. This award program is designed to highlight and celebrate those who are delivering better outcomes through innovative technology or business transformations and The Black Car Fund was recognized for the work we have done in providing workers’ compensation and related health benefits through our one-of-a-kind model.

At their annual Property and Casualty Conference in Boca Raton, Florida, Mitchell’s president and CEO Alex Sun presented our Executive Chairman, Berj Haroutunian, and myself, with the award and noted how we have continued to expand our portable workers’ compensation benefits and have added many additional wellness and safety benefits that improve our covered drivers’ overall wellness.

“It’s our mission to empower our clients to deliver the best possible outcomes to restore their customers’ lives after a challenging event,” said Alex Sun. “It’s a privilege year after year to recognize industry leaders for the incredible work they are doing.”

Keep an eye out on our website and social media pages for pictures from the conference, as well as a video that showcases our work and the incredible team we have here at The Fund!

In other news, the Taxi and Limousine Commission continues to face increased scrutiny throughout the city. This month, City Council Members Rafael Espinal and Ydanis Rodriguez joined the Independent Drivers Guild in calling for the creation of a driver’s bill of rights and a potential abolition or vast overhaul of the TLC in favor of an agency with more City Council oversight. This call comes in response to perceived inaction on the TLC’s part with regard to vocal concerns of predatory leasing prices for FHV drivers, as well as the TLC’s handling of the taxi medallion crisis.

The Independent Drivers Guild also called upon the City Council to require the commission to cap TLC driver’s licenses rather than capping vehicle licenses, to end predatory leasing with caps on lease costs, revoke TLC vehicle licenses from predatory companies, end manipulation of app access by HVFHVs such as Uber and Lyft, as well as requiring HVFHVs to establish due process procedures before deactivating drivers. It remains to be seen what the Council will do in response to these calls but it is increasingly clear that the status quo cannot continue.

Looking now to the rest of the country, this September, a landmark bill was passed and signed into law in California that will change the landscape of the gig economy throughout the state. Assembly Bill 5, essentially codifies a judgement from the state’s Supreme Court that created a new “ABC” test for whether a worker is classified as an employee or independent contractor. In order to be considered an independent contractor, a worker must be free of an employer’s control, must perform work that is outside of the usual course of the employer’s business and be established in a trade similar to the work being performed.

It’s no surprise that a bill of this magnitude has been quite controversial and although it has passed, the issue is far from over. Uber and Lyft have both proposed a referendum on the decision that would carve out an exemption for them and have set aside about $90 million to lobby for it. At the same time, opponents of the bill have argued that the bill will remove the flexibility that independent contractors have, a major draw of the gig economy in general. It remains unclear how this bill will be implemented, or the effect it will have on influencing legislators and the gig economy in other states, but it is certainly an issue that we will be watching closely.

As always, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us if you have questions or would like to learn more about The Black Car Fund and the benefits we offer to black car drivers throughout New York. Until next time!

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Article by Ira Goldstein

Ira Goldstein is Executive Director of the New York Black Car Fund, Chief Operating Officer of the Black Car Assistance Corporation and Treasurer of the Coalition of Transportation Associations.

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