NYU and the Independent Drivers Guild working together to mitigate COVID-19 risk for drivers and passengers
New York, NY — New York University’s School of Global Public Health (NYU GPH) is teaming up with the Independent Drivers Guild (IDG) to increase the safety of rideshare drivers and passengers during the COVID-19 pandemic.
NYU GPH environmental and occupational health experts are developing training programs and targeted protocols focused on evidence-based COVID-19 safety practices and tailored for rideshare drivers and passengers. The IDG—which represents more than 80,000 for-hire drivers for Uber, Lyft, and Via in New York City and advocates for more than 200,000 drivers across New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut—will work with its members to implement, monitor, and evaluate the program.
“Drivers for ride-hailing companies are on the front line, getting people to work and critical appointments, and coming into contact with numerous passengers each day. Drivers need to be protected, and passengers need to know that with safety practices implemented, COVID-19 risks can be minimized,” said Jack Caravanos, clinical professor of environmental public health sciences at NYU GPH and the project’s director.
“Passengers must have confidence that drivers are providing the safest possible ride or they won’t return to rideshare, and drivers need to know the steps to take to protect themselves and their riders,” said Brendan Sexton, executive director of the IDG. “Ride-hail drivers transport millions of riders each day in the United States and it is critical that we move quickly to adopt the safety procedures that will protect public health. We need the cooperation of Uber, Lyft, Via, and traditional black car companies to fulfill our goal of safe rides for all. We are glad to work with NYU School of Global Public Health to develop this safe ride program because knowledge is power, and we need to empower drivers with the information and resources they need to operate safely in this unprecedented environment.”
NYU GPH is creating a series of online training modules with the Guild, available in both English and Spanish, aligning with health and safety guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). The modules cover topics including an overview of COVID-19 symptoms, transmission, and testing, as well as an introduction to infection control, the proper use of face masks, personal hand hygiene, and sanitizing frequently touched surfaces. Training will also address activities specific to drivers, including vehicle cleaning, air ventilation in cars, and customer service protocols.
“I am eager to get back to work, but don’t have the luxury of working from home. It’s been difficult to balance safety and financial security. The training developed by NYU and the Guild are really important to me—giving me reliable information on how I can protect myself and my family,” said Guillermo Fondeur, an IDG member based in Brooklyn who drives for Uber and Lyft.
The Independent Drivers Guild has been the leading voice for the health and safety of ride-hail riders and drivers both before and during the Coronavirus pandemic. Amid the Coronavirus pandemic, the Guild successfully advocated for a ban on pool rides, a mask mandate for riders and drivers and compensation for sick and high-risk Uber, Lyft and Via drivers not just in New York City but across the nation. At the epicenter of America’s coronavirus outbreak, New York drivers found themselves without masks or sanitizer amid a worldwide shortage. The Guild worked quickly with partners to secure and distribute safety kits to more than ten thousands drivers who were still on the streets transporting hospital workers and other essential personnel and IDG is continuing to distribute safety kits as the city opens up.
The Guild’s work expanding driver benefits and protections over the years also played a critical role in protecting the health of riders and drivers throughout the crisis, from securing running water restrooms (providing critical hand washing stations) for drivers at Newark, La Guardia and JFK airports for the very first time to winning free telemedicine benefits for drivers.
The NYU team includes:
● Jack Caravanos, clinical professor of environmental public health sciences at NYU GPH, who has more than 30 years of experience in designing and implementing environmental health interventions. Local and international groups rely on his expertise and research to help communities at risk from exposure to environmental hazards and toxins. Caravanos is also a board-certified industrial hygienist and specialist in personal protective equipment (PPE), including masks.
● Andrew Goodman, clinical professor of public health policy and management at NYU GPH, who is a population health expert and former Deputy Commissioner for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention at the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. Goodman now works with government agencies and union management to design workplace health programs, and several community organizations to design, implement, and evaluate community health interventions.
● Andrew Burgie, assistant research scientist at NYU GPH, who directs the Hazardous Waste Worker Training Program, funded by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS), which has trained more than 5,000 professionals in the New York metropolitan area.
“We look forward to providing this training, which will benefit both drivers and their passengers. It’s one of many ways that NYU School of Global Public Health has been answering the call for public health expertise during this pandemic, from modeling to taking the pulse on primary care in New York City to community efforts mobilizing resources to donate PPE,” added Caravanos.
Caravanos, Goodman, and Burgie are working closely with the IDG to develop the evidence-based training program; IDG, a Machinists Union affiliate working to ensure the health and safety of rideshare drivers and riders through advocacy and education, will begin implementing the training program this week. The Guild is a leader in driver education and training programs, training thousands of for-hire vehicle drivers each year in defensive driving, English as a Second Language, chauffeur skills, and wellness programs.
Media contact for IDG: Moira Muntz, firstname.lastname@example.org About the NYU School of Global Public Health
At the NYU School of Global Public Health (NYU GPH), we are preparing the next generation of public health pioneers with the critical thinking skills, acumen, and entrepreneurial approaches necessary to reinvent the public health paradigm. Devoted to employing a nontraditional, interdisciplinary model, NYU GPH aims to improve health worldwide through a unique blend of global public health studies, research, and practice. The School is located in the heart of New York City and extends to NYU’s global network on six continents. Innovation is at the core of our ambitious approach, thinking and teaching. For more, visit: http://publichealth.nyu.edu/
About the Independent Drivers Guild
The Independent Drivers Guild is a Machinists Union affiliate that represents and advocates for more than 200,000 for-hire vehicle drivers in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut. Established in 2016, the Guild has secured numerous benefits and protections for ride-hail drivers, from free telemedicine benefits and mental health counseling to free English the first of its kind job protection program. The Guild’s successful campaign to require Uber to add a tipping option to the app and to establish the nation’s first minimum wage after expenses for New York City ride hail drivers have put over a billion dollars in drivers’ pockets.
IDG pushed for the app companies to provide financial assistance to drivers who are told by a licensed medical professional to stay home and self-isolate due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The app companies have different policies about eligibility and required documentation.
GET A DOCTORS NOTE. You can do this by calling your doctor or using our FREE telemedicine benefits to connect with a doctor via phone or video chat.
DOCTORS NOTE. When you talk to the doctor, tell them about your symptoms and ask for a letter saying you need to stay home and self-isolate due to risk of spreading COVID-19. Follow the app companies instructions for submitting documentation. Reach out to IDG if you need help.
ACTIVATE your Benefits by calling Drivers Benefits at 833-814-8590 from 8am to 8pm, or activate them online here: https://driversbenefits.org/activate-now/. Drivers Benefits can help you sign up for free or low-cost healthcare as well.
AFTER you have activated your Benefits you can use your MDLIVE Telemedicine benefit to call a doctor right from your phone, 24/7, wherever you are for free. Download the MDLIVE app from the App Store (iPhone) or Google Play (Android) or go to their website. If you’re a Drivers Benefits member and you haven’t registered at MDLIVE, you’ll need to do so before your first appointment. When you call MDLIVE, ask to make an appointment with a doctor.
You may also call or visit a local doctor or Urgent Care facility to get a doctor’s note. Call 311 to find a doctor in New York City you can see for free.
REQUEST sick pay from Uber here. Uber is saying they will follow up with requests for documents and process payment in 2-5 days. The information below will help you get the documents you need. Please let IDG know you are requesting sick pay by completing form here.
REQUEST sick pay from Lyft by apply for sick pay by contacting Lyft directly through App through “dashboard”. You can copy IDG on the email by sending to email@example.com as well OR let IDG know you are requesting sick pay by completing this form.
REQUEST sick pay from Via here. Please let IDG know you are requesting sick pay by completing this form.
While we support slowing the number of drivers entering the industry, limiting the number of vehicles on the street will lead to all new drivers being forced to lease, which will skyrocket the costs of leasing and vehicle costs as a whole. That is why the City Council agreed to regulate leasing companies.
While the bill to regulate leasing companies is proposed in City Council, our sources say it was written by the bosses of the industry. We have to demand a voice at the table, and we have to demand fairness. If we let up for one second, these companies will get away with anything they want.
In addition, the data the City Council has available that they are using to regulate leases and our pay is not based on reality. The recent Taxi and Limousine Commission study alleges that monthly vehicle leasing averages $635 per MONTH. We all know that right now, the lowest price you can get for an old Toyota Camry is $350 per WEEK.
We cannot allow leasing companies to exploit the vehicle cap to take advantage of our fellow drivers. We demand a fair limit to leasing prices. Sign this petition to demand a fair limit to leasing prices.
On August 8, the New York City Council will vote on what will be a huge win for IDG members. Now it’s time to cross the finish line. These bills will create a fair pay floor, and stop Uber and all the companies from over-hiring.
We wanted to answer some of the questions drivers have asked about Levin’s 144-B (the temporary vehicle cap):
How long will the cap be in effect and when will it go in effect?
The cap is a moratorium for 12 months and goes into effect the day the bill is signed into law. The bill is scheduled to be signed on Tuesday, August 14.
Is this limiting vehicles or drivers?
Vehicles. This is the license the moratorium effects:
The cap is on For-Hire Vehicle Licenses which are what give a vehicle owner the right to have a vehicle operate on the streets (like a medallion), not Universal Drivers Licenses. This is not a limit on TLC Drivers Licenses. The companies will continue to nonstop hire workers, though the hiring will likely slow, especially after four months or so.
I currently own a TLC vehicle, can I replace it?
Yes. If you currently own a vehicle, you may replace it with another vehicle during the 12 month moratorium period. You may not have two TLC-plated vehicles, but you can retire your old vehicle as a TLC plated car.
I’m currently processing my TLC licensure for my vehicle, will I be able to license my car?
Yes. The City Council has promised us that if you are currently in the waiting period to acquire your FHV License, your application will be honored.
My leasing partner currently owns the FHV License, but I am in a Lease-To-Own agreement and will own it within a year. Will I be able to own and operate my vehicle?
Yes. If you entered into a Lease-To-Own agreement before the bill goes into effect and that agreement is longer than two years, if the FHV License is currently under the leasing company, you will be able to get a FHV license for the vehicle and own it.
Will the value and cost of vehicles increase under this bill?
Yes and no. Unlike a medallion, FHV Licenses are non-transferable and cannot be sold on a market, so there’s never going to be a FHV License being sold for $3 million. However, because Uber will continue getting new drivers to enter the market, there is going to be a lot of pressure for current vehicle owners to lease out their cars, and the cost of leasing will likely skyrocket.
Is there any way I can buy a vehicle?
Yes. There are no limits on adding new Wheelchair Accessible Vehicles, and keep in mind that pay for WAV drivers is going to be significantly higher with our pay regulation bill. You can enter in real mile and minute numbers from a previous trip and see how big the increase would be if you were operating a WAV at http://IDG.ms/testtrip
Does the IDG support this legislation?
Yes, but it isn’t exactly what we wanted. We wanted a driver cap to stop new drivers from entering the industry which would have been much more radical and would have forced wages up throughout the entire industry without any bad effects on drivers. But this vehicle cap does make it harder—though not impossible—for Uber to nonstop hire which is good as it will pressure the companies to treat and pay workers better. Along with the Fair Pay Floor legislation, which will increase driver pay when a company over hires and make it unprofitable for them to continue flooding the market, this is a one-two punch to make things better for us.
But vehicle caps are problematic long term. The byproduct of the vehicle cap is that leasing costs will likely skyrocket if it stays in effect long term because all new drivers are effectively forced to lease or rent. However, this cap is only temporary, so we have a chance to work with the TLC to get vehicle limits, and regulations on companies like American Transit right over the next year. It is a good thing as a temporary measure.
Is there anything else about the bill package drivers should know?
The City Council is also voting on our pay regulation bill which we have been fighting for for two years. After the vote, we take the fight to the TLC to make sure it’s done right. You may test the TLC’s proposed raise here: http://IDG.ms/testtrip In addition, we are working with the City Council on rules to regulate and rein in leasing companies, that bill will be proposed on August 8, along with a health benefits fund.
In addition at the state level, we are continuing to work to expand the Black Car Fund to get them to provide disability insurance, paid time off, and other benefits.
In New York City, app-based drivers have come together with the Independent Drivers Guild to have a voice in the workplace. Since workers have come together, we have won:
A tipping option nationally, and laws that money from tips will all go to the driver.
We are on the brink of winning a huge pay raise, and we are the highest paid app-based drivers in the country.
We have the right to appeal any unfair firings.
We have workers’ compensation and other vital benefits so if we get hurt on the job, we are paid for days we can’t work.
Drivers are paid to attend Defensive Driving Classes, Heath and Wellness classes, and we run the IDG Education Center to teach drivers how to organize, and how to make this job sustainable.
We are quickly advancing toward a fair industry because of driver unity.
But Chicago is a different story. Uber, Lyft, and Via drivers in Chicago are some of the most underpaid app-based workers in the country. We have no protection from the constant, unrelenting exploitation and no voice with the people making the rules.
If you are ready to unite with your fellow drivers, please fill out this form and when we are ready, we’ll get started organizing.
Este mensaje está escrito en español a continuación
Fellow FHV Worker,
At this point, I don’t have to tell you that the Intro 838-a (The Diaz Bill) would absolutely destroy FHV drivers if passed.
The bill has several sponsors, including New York City Council Member Peter Koo. His district is in Flushing, Queens where thousands of IDG members live. Koo was elected to listen to their concerns, not vote to take our jobs away.
Hi, my name is Dennis Duan and I’m a For-Hire Vehicle Driver and member of the Independent Drivers Guild, who represents over 65,000 app-based professional drivers in NYC. I’m calling to ask Councilman Peter Koo to immediately stop supporting Intro 838-a because it harms workers. Thank you, have a nice day.
We may see a decision on this dangerous bill next week. Don’t let people like Peter Koo cast their votes without hearing from you.
Hailing Chen, Independent Drivers Guild
Trabajadores del volante,
En este momento, no tengo que decirle que la Intro 838-a (The Diaz Bill) destruiría absolutamente los conductores de FHV.
El proyecto de ley tiene varios patrocinadores, incluyendo el miembro del Consejo de la Ciudad de Nueva York, Peter Koo. Su distrito se encuentra en Flushing, Queens, donde viven miles de miembros de IDG. Koo fue elegido para escuchar nuestros preocupaciones, y no para votar a quitarnos nuestros empleos.
Una vez esta conectado, siga el script a continuación:
Hola, mi nombre es ___________ y soy Conductor de vehículos para alquiler y miembro del Independent Drivers Guild, que representa a más de 65,000 conductores profesionales en Nueva York. Llamo para pedirle al concejal Peter Koo que deje de apoyar inmediatamente la Introducción 838-a porque perjudica a los trabajadores. Gracias que tengas un buen día.
Podremos ver una decisión sobre esta peligrosa legislación la próxima semana. No permita que personas como Peter Koo votan sin saber de ti.
Hailing Chen, gremio de conductores independientes
For the past few months, Uber has been pushing alongside the MTA to implement a new tax on the labor of 100,000 immigrant workers. We have been at the table demanding the following:
No new tax without a guarantee that companies cannot take the sum of the tax from our cut of the fare.
No new tax without a social safety net for drivers. If New York is increasing costs to our passengers, a portion, if not all, of the profits should go back to the workers to help us provide for our families.
No new tax without parity across the industry between taxis, black car, and livery.
The final deal was decided late last week. Elected officials agreed on a deal that implements the following to fund the MTA:
A $2.75 tax on for-hire trips beginning or ending under 96th Street in Manhattan, excluding taxi trips.
A 75¢ tax on Via, UberPOOL, and Lyft Line pickups in the same area.
A $2.50 tax on taxi trips beginning or ending in the same area.
Instead of a tax on all vehicles, for-hire vehicles have been singled out to carry the burden for the whole city, while commercial trucks and private cars get off scot-free. It’s clear that for-hire vehicles are seen as the low hanging fruit and there is little doubt that is because monied special interests take precedent and most FHV drivers are immigrants who can’t vote.
Still, we did successfully beat back previous proposals that would have been worse, including a $1 tax on all rides in New York City in addition to the new Manhattan tax for app-based trips, and no tax on any other vehicles.
While we did not win the social safety net for drivers in the budget bill, we believe that we have the support to win in the regular State legislative session. State elected officials could not deliver on the guarantee to stop companies from taking the sum of the tax from our cut of the fare, however all eyes are on our demand that the Taxi and Limousine Commission regulate pay. If the TLC approves our rule, our pay will be protected from this and other taxes. The city’s decision will be announced by May 21st.
With the support of 15,000 petition signers that are struggling to provide for their families, the backing of state and city elected officials, and the support of our partner community organizations, we know that we will win a fair industry.
This new tax will be devastating to some of our members. But by coming together and compelling the TLC and other elected officials to move forward on our otherproposals we will no longer have to face the dilemma of having to choose between spending time with our families and being able to provide for them.
The IDG is a Machinists Union affiliate organizing app-based drivers. We are Uber, Lyft, Via, Juno workers united for a fair for-hire vehicle industry.