New York’s TLC drivers invest thousands of dollars to become licensed and insured to work in the city’s For-Hire Vehicle (FHV) industry, many going into debt and taking out loans. However, the big ride-hail apps can change the terms of our working conditions and pay whenever they want, and the drivers don’t get a say.

We saw it last year when Uber and Lyft started locking out drivers from their livelihood and we’ve seen it again and again – from taking away destination filters that drivers need to plan their day to changing bonuses so the companies keep most of the surge and the drivers get pennies. The good news is: There is a solution, and we think there is a real chance of winning it this year.

The solution is union bargaining power to win a fair contract.

New York state can pass a law giving ride-hail drivers a right to bargain and finally drivers will have a say. With a union, the companies will need to negotiate working conditions, pay, bonus structure, and benefits with the drivers who have invested thousands of dollars to work in this industry.

Most Americans would like to be represented by a union and it’s easy to see why. Studies show that union workers get better pay and benefits. Workers with a union have better job protection, paid time off, sick policies and better protective equipment.

Together, drivers organized with the Guild have worked hard to win important gains by proposing and passing laws – from the law that finally forced Uber to add a tipping option in the app to the law requiring the apps to increase driver pay. But the apps still hold too much of the power to change driver working conditions whenever they want, and the only way for drivers to get a voice is with bargaining power.

With bargaining power we can negotiate a contract that prevents the kind of lock-outs we experienced, we can demand destination filters, and we can get a real contract that the app companies won’t be able to change without negotiating with us first. But the only way we can win this right is if drivers come together and fight for it. We need you with us, so lawmakers see this is an urgent problem that’s important to families in their communities. Please join us at engage.drivingguild.org.

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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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