Struggling Drivers Waged Years Long Campaign for Pay Floor, Cap on Drivers

New York, NY — The Independent Drivers Guild is celebrating a package of amended bills in New York City which would bring drivers for apps like Uber and Lyft one step closer to winning the nation’s first minimum pay rules for app-based drivers. The IDG, which represents more than 65,000 app-based for-hire vehicle drivers in New York City, has waged a two year campaign for the rules, amassing more than 16,000 signatures on its petition, filing the formal rulemaking petition, demonstrating at city hall, running a social media ad campaign, and lobbying public officials for action.

“Apps like Uber and Lyft cannot be allowed to exploit loopholes in the law to pay drivers sub-minimum wage pay rates. This has been a long time coming and we are excited to see the city starting to take action. This is huge,” said Ryan Price, Executive Director of the Independent Drivers Guild, which has led the two year campaign for a pay raise. “Thousands of our members have poured their hearts, souls and time into this campaign and it feels good to be heard.”

The new draft of the proposed bill Intro 890-A sponsored by Council Member Lander calls on the city to establish minimum pay rates for drivers for apps like Uber and Lyft, who are not protected by minimum wage laws. The bill calls on the city’s Taxi and Limousine Commission to take into account the workers’ expenses and cost of living, as well as the total charged to the rider. The legislative proposal follows the IDG’s years long campaign for a raise and a cap on drivers —  and would give City Council backing to the TLC’s response: a minimum pay rate that would raise driver pay by at least 22.5 percent. The city commissioned analysis found that driver pay could be increased without much, if any, increase to rider fares.

“We want to thank Speaker Corey Johnson and Council Members Lander and Levin for listening to the drivers. This bill package is a massive improvement and a step in the right direction over the original Diaz bill which would have punished app based drivers with a new $2000 per driver tax, the one boss rule and 10-ride per day requirement which would have caused thousands of layoffs and created an Uber monopoly that would further harm workers. Thankfully, those onerous policies have now all been removed, but there is still work to be done. We are still studying the bills and will continue to work with the Council and TLC,” added Price.

Price noted that one of IDG’s remaining concerns is that much like the mistake of the medallion industry model, a vehicle cap would increase expenses to workers —and without a worker cap it may serve to incentivize more worker abuses. By allowing drivers to continue to flood the market, such a rule is unlikely to curb congestion and instead incentivize a shift to a fleet-based system, which erodes worker power and opportunity for building long term financial security. A cap on TLC licensed drivers is the worker-friendly solution that will work for both taxi drivers and app-based drivers. It’s essential the TLC watches that and curbs the wild west exploitation of the leasing and lending industries.

The IDG began pressing for pay rules in 2016 and released its formal, detailed proposal in November 2017. This included a livable minimum pay rate, which would also be a 37 percent raise over current Uber and Lyft rates, and a cap on the number of TLC-licensed drivers. The Guild went on to file a formal rulemaking petition in February 2018. In May, the city responded that it planned to act in approximately two months and released a report on its proposal this month: a pay floor that would raise driver pay by 22.5%.

The speaker’s office is also publicizing rules that are going to be proposed on August 8th that will give our members a health benefits fund, which is a Johnson bill about 1,000 of our members have signed a petition in support of, and presenting rules which would allow the TLC to regulate leasing companies. This progress comes on the heels of the IDG winning landmark new health and vision benefits for more than 42,000 Uber and Lyft drivers earlier this summer and follows the Guild’s successful campaign to force Uber to add tipping to the app.

See the timeline of the Guild’s campaign here: https://drivingguild.org/2018/06/29/pay-3/

There has been much misinformation being spread about the TLC’s pay proposal, we will soon be posting a FAQ here: https://drivingguild.org/2018/07/08/tlctesttrip/

See our backgrounder on why capping the number of TLC licensed FHV drivers is the labor-friendly alternative to capping the number of for-hire vehicles: https://drivingguild.org/2018/03/28/license-limit/