Uber, Lyft, Juno, Via, and other ride-share drivers earned a big victory today thanks to the Independent Drivers Guild. New York City officials voted Wednesday to pass the nation’s first legislation to close a minimum wage loophole in the City of New York. The Independent Drivers Guild (IDG), a quasi-union of 65,000 Uber, Lyft, Juno, Via and other ride-share drivers, campaigned for two years to get a minimum pay rate for app-based drivers.
The New York City Council also passed additional for-hire-vehicle bills Wednesday, including a temporary cap on Uber, Lyft, Juno, Via and other for-hire ride-share vehicles and new data reporting requirements.
Independent Drivers Guild founder Jim Conigliaro, Jr said “More than 65,000 working families will be getting a desperately needed raise because of today’s vote. We hope this is the start of a more fair industry not only here in New York City, but all over the world. We cannot allow the so-called ‘gig economy’ companies to exploit loopholes in the law in order to strip workers of their rights and protections.”
Independent Drivers Guild Executive Director Ryan Price said “Workers and New York leaders made history today. It’s not easy taking on Silicon Valley behemoths, but we kept on fighting for what we know is right and today the workers prevailed. We are thankful to the New York City officials who listened to the stories of drivers who are struggling to support their families and stood by us in this fight. In particular, our thanks go out to Speaker Corey Johnson, Council Members Lander and Levin, and everyone at the Taxi and Limousine Commission who has been working with us on this effort for the last two years.”
More than 16,000 drivers signed the Independent Drivers Guild’s petition to require a minimum pay rate for apps like Uber and Lyft. To force action, the IDG filed a formal rulemaking petition in March and the city responded in May that it planned to act on pay rules this summer. The Independent Drivers Guild used the same regulatory and legislative strategy and tactics to require Uber to add a tipping option to the app last year. Just months after the city greenlighted Independent Drivers Guild’s proposed tipping rules, Uber added a tipping option not only for New York City (its biggest market) but for drivers across the U.S.
“Uber and Lyft have had every opportunity to pay drivers fairly, but instead they went out of their way to design new and deceitful ways to slash our pay and take more and more of our hard-earned fares. Meanwhile they have flooded the streets with more drivers than there is work. It’s cruel to their existing drivers and it is cruel to the new drivers who are going into debt to do a job they wrongly believe will pay off.” said Independent Drivers Guild member Hailing “Henry” Chen, a 26 year old Uber driver who lives in Queens. “The companies are trying to claim they now support fair pay for drivers, but those are lies. They fought this every step of the way. Even after report after report came out showing the apps pay less than minimum wage, the companies denied it and refused to raise our pay. This victory was won by the workers. Only when workers came together to put massive pressure on city officials did they act. ”
In New York City, nearly 90 percent of Independent Drivers Guild members drive for apps as their main source of income and nine in ten drivers are immigrants.
Will similar legislation occur in Oakland? Oakland News Now and Zennie62Media will focus on that question in the coming weeks.