The Independent Drivers Guild is a Machinists Union affiliate that represents over 80,000 For-Hire Vehicle drivers in New York City and advocates for more than 200,000 across NY, NJ, and CT. We are Uber, Lyft and Via workers united for a fair industry.
Founded in 2016, The Independent Drivers Guild is the leading driver organization in the nation by virtue of accomplishments through direct actions and advocacy. We are drivers led and drivers powered. Our primary mission is to unite drivers to fight for the right to collectively bargain which is the only way to stop the exploitation and give drivers the power to negotiate better work conditions themselves.
The IDG has been leading and winning the fight to empower drivers in advocating for a lucrative industry, a safe working environment and driver friendly policies. Furthermore, we have been actively working to address drivers hardships and their immediate needs that require urgent attention.
Through organizing, we have secured many victories:
Tipping Option: When Uber entered the market, they believed that drivers did not deserve a tip by not even making it an option in the app. IDG fought to make it not only optional, but mandatory for any app company that wants to operate in New York City.
$27.86/hr minimum wage: We quickly identified how underpaid drivers were, hence we waged a fierce fight to make sure drivers will not wake up to the usual rate cutes the app companies were accustomed to. The first in the world, the IDG secured a minimum wage for drivers.
Drivers seat at the table: Taking on billion dollar ride-hail companies to win better pay and improve working conditions is a big challenge we can only win by working together. Thanks to your support, NYC drivers now have a seat at the table to advocate for better working conditions.
Deactivation Appeals: Before the IDG, drivers had no recourse if they were kicked off the apps and no way to communicate with the app management. Now New York City Uber and Lyft drivers have the strongest appeal process in the U.S.
Understanding the pressing need to get assistance NOW, we thrive to provide direct and quick relief with regards to quality of life improvement necessities and crucial services including but not limited to:
Bathrooms: Prior to IDG, drivers at the various airport lots had no access to bathrooms. The health hazard related to the lack of it was immense. Now drivers have access to fully equipped and functional bathrooms with running water in all NYC airport waiting lots.
Relief Stands: The non-existence of a space to park, step out of your vehicle and stretch without getting a ticket was a dream for many FHV drivers. IDG advocated for FHV relief Stands to allow drivers to legally park in designated areas.
Wellness: The stress and anxiety associated with driving is real. We have a team of licensed therapists that help drivers and their families with mental health.
Education: For drivers that are deactivated for low rating, the IDG provides free classes to help improve your driving skills and get your job back.
IDG Legal: We started the IDG Legal Services program because over the years we have seen drivers get taken advantage of by attorneys who either charge too much money or simply give the wrong advice. Through IDG Legal, we provide low cost & valuable Legal Support to FHV drivers in the tri-state area.
Limited Benefits: In partnership with the BCF, drivers can take a free ddc class and get paid $300. They are also provided prescription discounts,
PPE: In the midst of the Pandemic, IDG recognized quickly the inability of institutions to acquire and distribute PPE for the drivers. PPE supplies were scarce and over-priced. In partnership with the Black Car Fund we filled the void and were able to pack and distribute over 20,000 PPE kits to all drivers, including FHV, livery and taxi workers.
Why did the Machinists Union Start the Guild?
For many Americans, benefits like paid time off, health insurance and retirement plans are taken for granted. But in some industries, such as the black car industry and the “gig economy,” workers are denied such benefits.
For twenty years, the Machinists Union (IAMAW District 15) has been a leading advocate for drivers in New York City, and to date is the only worker center to win representation with black car drivers. Drivers in the black car industry have long been deemed independent contractors and typically denied employee benefits and protections like health insurance, workers’ compensation, and retirement benefits. So drivers united with the Machinists to organize Elite Limousine in the late 1990s. This campaign led to a landmark decision that granted Elite’s “independent drivers” the right to organize and form a guild for the purpose of collective bargaining. As a result, the guild achieved the industry’s first pension and health benefits offered to black car drivers.
The Machinists also led the charge to create the New York Black Car Workers’ Compensation Fund that was created to assist drivers during their time of need, even though they’re legally classified as independent contractors. The Fund compensates injured drivers while they are hurt and unable to work. In addition, the Fund offers Defensive Driving and Health and Wellness courses that pay drivers up to $300 to attend. More information here.
Because of the changing industry spearheaded by Uber, many drivers who were previously represented by the IAMAW are now app-based black car drivers. Those drivers were left with no seat at the table, no voice in the workplace, and no basic protections.
The Independent Drivers Guild is changing all that.
For over two years, drivers urged the Machinists Union to represent them to increase their earnings, benefits, and protections. In late 2015, the Machinists Union entered negotiations with Uber and announced the formation of the IDG in May 2016.
The Guild brings immediate protection, discounts on key benefits and much needed support to drivers—as well as a platform to further improve working conditions, earnings and benefits.
The International Association of Machinists & Aerospace Workers are the people moving North America.