Formal Rulemaking Petition Requires City to Decide in 60 Days

After years of pay cuts and exploitation, New York City’s ride-hail drivers can’t make ends meet and many are making less than minimum wage after expenses. That’s why on March 20th, the Independent Drivers Guild (IDG) formally petitioned New York City to enact a livable minimum pay rate for app-based for-hire vehicle drivers. Our proposed rule would require apps to increase driver pay by at least 37% over the current rates paid by Uber and Lyft. A pay raise would allow drivers to make a living wage in shorter shifts, so there would be fewer Uber drivers on the streets. This will help reduce congestion and make it easier for all For-Hire vehicle drivers (taxi, black car and livery) to make a living.

We are optimistic that this is something drivers can win – if we work together. Last year, IDG members petitioned for and won a New York City law and a TLC rule which forced Uber and Via to add a tipping option to their apps. In that petition, the IDG noted that further protections were needed to ensure drivers could maintain a dignified living. The Commission responded in agreement that rules are needed to ensure that Drivers earn a livable wage.

According to city rules, the city’s Taxi and Limousine Commission (TLC) must approve or reject the proposed rule by May 21st. At a time when New York politicians are debating expensive new taxes on for-hire vehicle trips, it is particularly important that driver pay be protected. More than 15,000 drivers have signed on in support of the Guild’s petition and we hope you will join us in calling on the city to act. The IDG will continue its campaign for these pay protections by launching calls and emails to the TLC, as well as promoting the cause with flyers and ads. To join the fight, text PAY to 64336.

The proposed rule would also require drivers be paid for return trips (known as “deadhead pay”) on trips that take drivers out of the city and cap rider app fees at 20% to prevent price gouging in the industry. A 20% fee is the fee that riders and drivers originally agreed to, but the apps violated those agreements for months and are now charging some riders more than double what they pay drivers, and it must be stopped.

Finally, the Guild is calling for a cap on new TLC-licensed drivers. The rapid growth in the number of TLC drivers has outpaced demand, forcing drivers to work longer and longer shifts and increasing unpaid downtime between fares. A cap on vehicles would increase costs for drivers, but a cap on new TLC drivers would make drivers more valuable. It would help drivers make a living in shorter shifts by reducing the number of drivers on the road, while also giving bases an incentive to compete for drivers (with better pay, policies or apps).

New York has a long history of standing up for working families and must not allow our city’s 100,000 drivers to be taken advantage of. We are calling on the city to enact a livable minimum pay rate for app-based drivers. We cannot allow multi-billion-dollar corporations to profit off the labor of New York workers without paying them a fair rate.

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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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