The media is reporting the seventh known suicide in the last year in this industry, and the second of our members to take their lives under pressure of overwhelming debt. It’s a tragedy we wish we could have prevented and our sincere sympathies go out to the friends and family of Fausto Luna.
The For-Hire Vehicle industry is in a far reaching crisis that is affecting thousands of families across our city right now. After years of sub minimum wage pay, mounting bills and punishing shifts, drivers for apps like Uber and Lyft are at the breaking point along with drivers across the for-hire vehicle industry.
Our message to drivers is to take heart: we are SO close to making this industry so much better, and you are not alone. We are about to win a massive raise and we are united in fighting for a fair industry. We encourage all of our members to reach out to NYC Well and get involved in the IDG where we take care of each other like brothers and sisters.
This industry and this job is debilitatingly lonely by design. As a member elegantly said at a meeting: “In here we are brothers, but on the streets we are wolves.” The working conditions of the industry pits people who should be working together as brothers and sisters against one another in a constant battle of who gets the next trip, who cuts who off, and who goes first. Though drivers are with people all day, they are often treated by their passengers as subhuman, alienated from their humanity, and underpaid for it to boot.
But the core of this crisis is economic, which is why we have been fighting for the city to enact a livable wage. It is hard to not be depressed when you are working 60 hours a week and still not making enough money to provide for your family. We also need a crisis response that meets drivers where they are, so we are in the process of establishing a mental health and wellness program including prevention, counseling and crisis response.
We have worked over the last year to create and secure funding for a mental health and wellness plan including hiring a psychologist and social worker. The Independent Drivers Guild has secured a grant from the Black Car Fund for this program and is currently hiring and will be launching the program in the coming months.