NEW Bill Could Force Mass Driver Layoffs, Leaving Thousands of NYC Families Unemployed

New York, NY — Members of the Independent Drivers Guild are calling on City Council to enact worker-friendly for-hire vehicle laws as drivers for apps like Uber, Lyft and Juno continue to struggle to make ends meet. In particular, IDG members are calling for the City Council to oppose a newly amended bill, Proposed Intro 838-A, which could destroy their livelihoods and force mass layoffs of thousands of New York City app-based drivers. In a survey of IDG members, 98% opposed Intro 838-A. Guild members took to City Hall in response on Wednesday distributing hundreds of flyers and speaking with several Council Members.

“More than 65,000 New York City families depend on an app-based driver for their household income. Yet while companies repeatedly exploit drivers, who are largely low income immigrants, New York lawmakers have failed to enact crucial protections and instead pursued policies that only pit one sector of the industry against the other while bringing further strain to working families,” said Uber driver and IDG steward Sohail Rana. “There are important steps that lawmakers can take to reign in companies like Uber and Lyft and stop the exploitation without harming drivers and their families.”

“What on Earth do they think is going to happen if they legislate an impossible quota? Thousands, maybe even tens of thousands of New Yorkers will lose their livelihoods. There is a better way,” said IDG member Michele Dottin, who spent the day on Wednesday talking to Council Members and staffers at City Hall. “To disguise forcible layoffs of thousands of New Yorkers as a wage guarantee is about as cynical as it gets. Many Councilmembers simply lack the data to understand the implications here, which is why we think the smart move is for City Council to let the Taxi and Limousine Commission take the lead. The TLC has the data, the IDG has been helping them collect it for months and they told us they will be ready with proposals this summer. Let’s hear what they have to say instead of knee jerk policy decisions driven by special interests and political donors.”

The Guild has been campaigning for livable wage rules for months and this week the TLC responded to the IDG’s rulemaking petition stating the Commission would put forward wage rules in approximately two months.

Under pressure from the Independent Drivers Guild, which led a 300-driver protest of bill Intro 838 last month, New York City Council Member and FHV Committee Chairman Ruben Diaz Sr removed the most punitive measure from his original bill, a new $2000 per year tax on app-based drivers. But in its place, he added a new quota system that would require apps to pay all affiliated drivers for ten trips per day, everyday, whether they work or not. However, Uber, Lyft and Juno, the city’s three most popular ride hail apps, average far less than this quota. This practically guarantees that apps will layoff thousands of drivers and change their terms to require a minimum log-in time and/or a fee for using the app. The bill also would prohibit drivers from working for more than one company or app and force them to add big, permanent numbers to their personal vehicles like taxis.

Problems in the Diaz bill for Drivers Include:

Thousands of layoffs: Currently Uber only has enough demand to send 10 trips per day to 40,000 of its more than 60,000 drivers. For Lyft and Juno it’s even worse.

No Day Off, 10 Trip Minimum: Remaining workers would likely face immense pressure never to take a day off and get fired for missing the 10 trip per day minimum.

Pay to Work and Shift Work: Apps would likely require drivers to pay to work in order to reduce their risk and share the costs of this requirement with drivers and require drivers to work minimum hours/ sign up for long shifts.

10 Trips Per Day Limit – Income Cap – Any drivers who are not laid off could expect that they won’t get dispatched more trips once they have reached 10. Apps would have incentive to prioritize all dispatches toward meeting the 10 trips requirement, but once it’s met a driver can expect to go to the very back of the queue.

Drivers of Luxury Vehicles May Suffer – IDG fought hard for the ability of drivers of luxury vehicles and SUVs to opt out of low cost trips that do not allow them to pay the bills. These drivers would likely be forced to take low cost trips that leave them upside down because the volume of luxury trips does not align with this quota.

Lower Hourly Earnings, More Deadhead Time – With a system that prioritizes implausible quotas, IDG expects more deadhead time between trips which will lower hourly earnings — and riders can expect longer waits.

The IDG advocates regulating the app-based industry while helping all FHV workers make a living wage. In addition to opposing the Diaz bill, the IDG is calling on City Council to:

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The Independent Drivers Guild is an affiliate of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers and represents and advocates for more than 65,000 app-based drivers in New York City. We are Uber, Lyft, Juno, and Via drivers united for a fair for-hire vehicle industry.