News

IDG Moves to ENGAGE

The Independent Drivers Guild is making the move to the UnionTrack ENGAGE member management platform this summer. The switch to the ENGAGE platform will transform our day-to-day operations, freeing up our staff to better anticipate and solve those challenges our drivers face on a daily basis. By using this next-generation member engagement platform, our drivers can keep up to date with the ever-evolving professional driver’s landscape in solidarity.

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More time for you

The move to the ENGAGE platform allows IDG staff to spend more time focused on better servicing our members. More time for us, means more time for you.

Breaking Benefits News

As new Guild benefits arrive, we will now be able to quickly share those details with our members. If you need to take action, we will let you know.

Can You Hear Me Now?

ENGAGE combines a robust set of communications tools (SMS, email, socials) allowing real-time Member/Guild communication across a wide variety of platforms. Whatever method you choose, important IDG information will arrive quickly.

Your Feedback

From time to time, we may send out short member surveys, to better gauge what our members really need. Your feedback keeps us up to date with issues and praises from the field.

 

This platform is not intended to replace your existing app-based driving tools.

News | Press Releases

Regressive Congestion Tax Should be Repealed for ALL For-hire Vehicles

APP-BASED FHV TRIPS TAXED MUCH MORE THAN TAXIS — FULL REPEAL IS THE ANSWER

New York, NY — The Independent Drivers Guild is renewing its calls for a full repeal of New York State’s congestion tax, which places the cost of congestion squarely on the backs of low income for-hire vehicle drivers. Drivers for app-based companies are struggling to get by after years of being paid less than minimum wage and more than 1,700 have signed the Guild’s petition to repeal the regressive tax. Taxi drivers who were conned into buying medallions at inflated prices are also financially desperate. Meanwhile, commercial and delivery vehicles for companies like Amazon are exempt until at least the end of 2020. The real estate industry and their vehicles that block full lanes of traffic got a pass as well.

App-based for hire vehicle trips are already taxed much more highly than taxis and the new congestion tax made the disparity even worse. App-based for hire vehicle drivers were making less than minimum wage for years and their labor already had a sales tax of 8.875 percent, while taxis are exempt from the sales tax. The addition of the new NYS congestion tax pushed taxation on the average $20 app-based trip up to $5 or 25%. Meanwhile the same taxi trip is taxed $3.30.

“To place the burden of funding the MTA on the backs of the city’s most desperate, low income immigrant workers is simply obscene. It’s a regressive law that should be repealed period. We feel for the taxi drivers who are suffering, however app-based drivers are suffering as well after years of poverty wages. This tax is a bad law that should be repealed for all for-hire vehicle trips,” said Independent Drivers Guild Executive Director Brendan Sexton. “Why give special interests and billionaires a pass by failing to pass taxes like the pied-a-terre tax on billionaires and instead shift costs to poor immigrants who work 12 hour days? It’s time for our legislature to repeal this unfair tax on the labor of all for-hire vehicle drivers and instead make the millionaires and billionaires pay their share.”

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Before the new tax went into place, for-hire vehicle trips were already taxed over $260 million per year in sales tax alone.  With the new FHV congestion tax that took effect in February, the average Uber or Lyft trip in Manhattan is taxed $5 or 25 percent.  A $20 taxi trip is now taxed $3.30 or 16.5%. Taxis are exempt from the 8.875% sales tax. However, they were already taxed some $57 million per year with the MTA fee.

See more background and the Guild’s written testimony on this tax from November 2018:

https://drivingguild.org/2018/11/28/uber-and-lyft-drivers-slam-unfair-regressive-congestion-tax/
IDG is a Machinists Union affiliate which represents and advocates for more than 70,000 app-based drivers in NYC. The Guild led a two year campaign, amassing more than 16,000 signatures, to win the nation’s first minimum wage rules for drivers for apps like Uber and Lyft. 

News | Press Releases

NYC Drivers Snarl Morning Traffic, Hold 300 Person Rally Outside Uber and Lyft Offices

Drivers Take Action Across US, Around the World

Three hundred members of the Independent Drivers Guild rallied outside Uber and Lyft NYC offices this morning in solidarity with drivers across the country and around the world organizing for fair pay. The Drivers Guild also led a very slow vehicle procession through the city this morning. The protest procession slowly made its way over the Brooklyn Bridge at 8 AM, through Wall Street, past the Uber office in Manhattan, and across the 59th St Bridge to the Uber and Lyft NYC driver headquarters in Queens. See all the livestream footage at Facebook.com/drivingguild and more photos shared on https://twitter.com/DrivingGuild.

“Never before have we seen so many drivers all over the world take action together. I think Uber and Lyft are more than a little nervous today that their days of paying poverty wages are numbered,” said IDG member and app-based driver Tina Raveneau. “Together we are raising our voices and today we are being heard.”

“Drivers built Uber and Lyft and it is wrong that so many drivers continue to be paid less than minimum wage while Silicon Valley investors gets rich off their labor. All Uber and Lyft drivers deserve fair pay and we stand in solidarity with our sisters and brothers across the nation and around the world,” said Brendan Sexton, Executive Director of the Independent Drivers Guild, a Machinists Union affiliate which represents more than 70,000 app-based drivers in NYC.

The Independent Drivers Guild led a two year campaign to win the nation’s first minimum pay rules for app-based drivers in New York City, which regulators projected would increase pay by an average of $10,000 per year.  As part of that campaign, the Guild led a procession over the Brooklyn Bridge to win fair pay rules for drivers one year ago. One year later the Guild is back fighting for drivers across the nation and around the world who still make less than minimum wage.

IDG is a Machinists Union affiliate which represents and advocates for more than 70,000 app-based drivers in NYC. The Guild led a two year campaign, amassing more than 16,000 signatures, and formally petitioned the city for the pay rules which are the nation’s first minimum wage rules for drivers for apps like Uber and Lyft. New York City’s Taxi and Limousine Commission projected the rules would raise pay for New York City drivers by nearly $10,000 per year.

News | Press Releases

Mental Health Program Launches for NY Drivers in Wake of Suicides

NYC Public Advocate Jumaane Williams and others join with Independent Drivers Guild and The Black Car Fund to launch one-of-a-kind wellness program

New York, NY — In response to high rates of depression, stress and anxiety and an epidemic of for-hire vehicle driver suicides across the city, the Independent Drivers Guild is launching an innovative new mental health and wellness program for NYC’s for-hire vehicle drivers with support from the Black Car Fund. The one-of-a-kind Driver Wellness program seeks to destigmatize mental health care and will take a holistic approach to wellness by providing a suite of free counseling and case management services and classes to address and prevent crisis situations. The Guild’s counseling services are available in English, Spanish, Urdu, Bengali, and Mandarin.

“Too many drivers across our city are in crisis—with nine suicides that we know of in a little over a year. We are launching this program to provide drivers with much needed support and to save lives,” said Brendan Sexton, Executive Director of the Independent Drivers Guild.  “At its core, this crisis is largely driven by the economic insecurity of the for-hire vehicle industry. At the same time as we stand up for fair pay for drivers and remedy the exploitation in this industry, we also must give drivers and their families much-needed resources and support. We aim to erase the stigma of mental health care, create a community of support and stop the suicides.”

“This new wellness program comes at a critical moment for for-hire drivers, who desperately need a stronger safety net as they struggle with the stress of an extremely competitive profession, and a more and more demanding daily life,” said Ira Goldstein, Executive Director of the Black Car Fund. “We hope that this program will not just improve lives—but also save them. Something must be done, and the Black Car Fund is proud to work with the Independent Drivers Guild and leaders like Public Advocate Williams to reach out and offer meaningful help before it’s too late.”

The Guild and BCF were joined by New York City Public Advocate Jumaane Williams, who is a champion of ending the stigma surrounding mental health care, particularly for men and communities of color, and New York City Council Member and Transportation Committee Chair Ydanis Rodriguez. Also attending the launch event were community partners as well as drivers and family members who have been affected by the crisis in the FHV industry.

“As a mental health crisis continues to grow in the community of drivers that has been New York City’s backbone, it is clear that we in city government have failed this community of hardworking people just trying to keep up,” said New York City Public Advocate Jumaane Williams.“I’m glad that this new program will help provide some vital resources and support through a holistic approach that continues to destigmatize mental health care.”

“We cannot sit still as drivers suffering from mental health issues and financial stresses take their lives,” said City Council Member Ydanis Rodriguez, Chairman of the Transportation Committee. “I thank the Independent Drivers Guild and the Black Car Fund for all the work and support they bring to the drivers that need it the most. I will continue working with the Council to ensure our at-risk drivers receive the help they need. This new program from the Independent Drivers Guild and the Black Car Fund will go a long way to improving the quality of life for drivers in New York City.

“Driving for a living in New York can be a stressful job in 2019: competition for fares is high, the hours are long, and the job itself is demanding. Unfortunately, it seems more and more for-hire drivers are suffering from mental and financial challenges. This new program from the Independent Drivers Guild and the Black Car Fund will go a long way to improving the quality of life for drivers —and will likely save lives as well — at a critical moment for the for-hire vehicle industry,” said Council Member Diana Ayala, Chair of the City Council’s Committee on Mental Health, Disabilities, and Addiction.

 “Many for-hire vehicle drivers in New York City have faced a myriad of financial challenges that have resulted in new mental health challenges,” said City Council Member Rory Lancman. “We have seen the impact of this crisis all over the City as rates of anxiety and depression have increased among drivers, and nine drivers have tragically taken their own lives in just the past year. The health and well-being of our drivers is a top priority, and I commend the Independent Drivers Guild and the Black Car Fund for launching this new wellness program that will provide counseling and support to drivers in need.”

“Our motto has always been, the drivers come first. We always keep this in our minds as we work to expand the benefits we provide to our covered drivers” said Berj Haroutunian, Chairman of The Black Car Fund Board and President of Vital Transportation Inc. “Being a for-hire driver in this city takes a toll physically and mentally, and both these issues must be addressed. The program we proudly announce today can save lives and will have a positive effect on the well-being of thousands of drivers.”

In recent weeks, the Guild has provided grief counseling for families of drivers affected by violence on the job and fellow drivers who took their own lives. The driver wellness program has also provided trauma counseling for a driver whose passenger was murdered, and crisis support for a driver facing eviction, among others. The program is now launching signups for free individual, couple, and family counseling as well as case management support in obtaining resources at https://drivingguild.org/wellness/

The Guild’s Driver Wellness program focuses on both prevention and crisis intervention. The multi-pronged program is tailored to meet drivers where they are—physically, mentally and in their language. The program includes:

Weekly Driver Discussion Circles: Our discussion circles function as an accessible and destigmatized entry point into the program. Driver circles provide an in-person way to connect, raise concerns, share advice, and gain coping skills. Led by a clinical social worker, drivers share experiences and discuss practical steps they can take to address stressors of the for-hire vehicle industry. Drivers can opt to participate in group and individual counseling after the circle discussion ends.

Immediate Counseling Services for High-Risk Individuals:  Private therapy sessions and group and family sessions with a licensed counselor.

 Case Management Support: Social workers assess the needs of drivers and their families and provide linkage to services like SNAP benefits, housing assistance, disability support services and more.

 Creating a Community Network:  participants in the community network will be trained on identifying warning signs of mental health crisis and carrying out mental health first aid. The Community Leader Network will send referrals to the Mental Health and Wellness Team for ongoing counseling, creating a link between frontline communities most impacted by the crisis and the resources they need for prevention long-term.

Wellness Curriculum: expansion of wellness curriculum and classes (financial, mental health, mindfulness, overall wellness, career skills and language proficiency).

“Professional drivers are quite isolated from one another, spending long days behind the wheel. Driver discussion circles provide an in-person way to connect, raise concerns, and gain coping skills. We have been blown away by how ready drivers are to open up about what they are going through,” said Deborah Ho, a counselor with IDG’s driver wellness program.

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News

Lyft caves on minimum-wage rules

As featured in Crains New York

Mounting pressure from drivers forces company’s hand

By: Matthew Flamm

Lyft, the San Francisco-based ride-hail service, is learning the hard way that you can’t fight City Hall.

The company announced Wednesday that it would begin paying drivers according to the Taxi and Limousine Commission’s new minimum-wage regulations that it sought to block with a lawsuit only last week.

The suit against the TLC, filed in New York state Supreme Court, failed to obtain an injunction. But in a motion posted Friday morning, Judge Andrea Masley told the company it could pay drivers according to its own rate card and put the raise in escrow while the suit was pending. The next court date is March 18.

That solution quickly proved unworkable as driver protests mounted and Lyft rivals Uber and Via agreed to raise their drivers’ pay immediately.

The new rules require that drivers earn an hourly minimum of $27.86, which comes to $17.22 after expenses (the equivalent of a $15 minimum wage, factoring in payroll taxes and paid leave), with the pay calculated on a per-trip basis. The raise averages out to about $9,600 a year.

By late Friday, Lyft had announced it would pay drivers the amount required by the TLC rather than put money into escrow, but the raise would be distributed over the course of a week. That would allow the company to charge less for rides during periods of low demand and add incentives to keep drivers on the road when demand picked up.

The problem with that approach was that drivers felt they were being shortchanged, because the incentives were considered part of their pay, not an addition to their minimum, as was intended under the rules.

The Independent Drivers Guild, which represents app-based drivers and has led the campaign for a raise, launched a petition demanding that Lyft and Juno—which also sued the TLC—follow the new rules. It collected more than 2,500 signatures.

Lyft told the group on Wednesday that it would pay drivers any back pay they are owed dating to Feb. 1, the day the rules took effect. Juno has not responded to requests for comment.

For the complete article, please visit:  https://www.crainsnewyork.com/transportation/lyft-caves-minimum-wage-rules

News

New Benefits

Learn today if you’re eligible for new and free benefits through Drivers Benefits by filling out the online eligibility form here. You can also call the Drivers Benefits hotline at 833-814-8590.

What are the benefits?

Drivers vision: Free eye exam and glasses benefit paid for by The Black Car Fund.

Drivers Telemedicine: Call a doctor for a consultation any time, day or night, paid for by The Black Car Fund. Free translators in your native language can be provided on request. 

Click here to learn more about the benefits that are available.

News

Uber and Lyft Drivers Guild: Stop Double Jeopardy Tickets

New York City Council Vote is Today

Today, the Independent Drivers Guild is calling on New York City Council Members to vote to end the unfair practice of double ticketing for-hire vehicle drivers for the same violation. The Committee on Governmental Operations, Chaired by Fernando Cabrera, will be holding a hearing to vote on Intro 748-A and if passed, the bill is likely to go to the full City Council for a vote in the stated meeting at 1:30pm today.

Currently, drivers for apps like Uber and Lyft are being ticketed and fined by DOT for a violation, paying to fight or settle that ticket, and then months later they are ticketed again for the same exact violation by the Taxi and Limousine Commission. The Independent Drivers Guild has lobbied to end this unfair practice that is harming drivers who already face exorbitant fees and expenses. Intro 748-A requires judges and hearing officers to dismiss a duplicate notice of violation.

“Double ticketing for-hire vehicle drivers for the same violation is blatantly unfair. One department of the city cannot be allowed to fine a driver again after another department has already adjudicated or reached a settlement for the same alleged violation,” said Jim Conigliaro, founder of the Independent Drivers Guild. “Double ticketing is a scam that targets those who can least afford it and we are pleased to see the City Council take up a vote to right this wrong. We urge passage of Intro 748-A.”

The city’s official summary of Intro 748-A is as follows:

This bill would establish certain procedural requirements in relation to violations of New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission (TLC) laws or regulations adjudicated by the Office of Administrative Trials and Hearings (OATH). The bill would require that a TLC representative would be required to be present at hearings, either in person or remotely; that a respondent could appear remotely, through internet video; that OATH could reduce a violation, if it finds doing so to be in the interests of justice, subject to a review by TLC; that any duplicate notice of violation should be automatically dismissed and, finally, it would establish hearing timeliness requirements to facilitate prompt adjudication of violations.

The Independent Drivers Guild has also opposed a new New York State congestion tax on for-hire vehicles that will take effect in January and raise the average per trip tax to $5 per trip on app-based vehicles like Uber and Lyft with trips that enter Manhattan below 96th St. The same $20 fare would be taxed at a little over $3 per trip in taxis. See the IDG’s analysis of that upcoming tax here. The Guild has called for state legislators to repeal and replace that unfair tax.

Media Contact: [email protected]

News

Uber and Lyft Drivers Guild: Stop Double Jeopardy Tickets

NYC City Council Vote is Today

Today, the Independent Drivers Guild is calling on New York City Council Members to vote to end the unfair practice of double ticketing for-hire vehicle drivers for the same violation. The Committee on Governmental Operations, Chaired by Fernando Cabrera, will be holding a hearing to vote on Intro 748-A and if passed, the bill is likely to go to the full City Council for a vote in the stated meeting today.

Currently, drivers for apps like Uber and Lyft are being ticketed and fined by DOT for a violation, paying to fight or settle that ticket, and then months later they are ticketed again for the same exact violation by the Taxi and Limousine Commission. The Independent Drivers Guild has lobbied to end this unfair practice that is harming drivers who already face exorbitant fees and expenses. Intro 748-A requires judges and hearing officers to dismiss a duplicate notice of violation.

“Double ticketing for-hire vehicle drivers for the same violation is blatantly unfair. One department of the city cannot be allowed to fine a driver again after another department has already adjudicated or reached settlement for the same alleged violation,” said Jim Conigliaro, founder of the Independent Drivers Guild. “Double ticketing is a scam that targets those who can least afford it and we are pleased to see the City Council take up a vote to right this wrong. We urge passage of Intro 748-A.”

The city’s official summary of Intro 748-A is as follows:

This bill would establish certain procedural requirements in relation to violations of New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission (TLC) laws or regulations adjudicated by the Office of Administrative Trials and Hearings (OATH). The bill would require that a TLC representative would be required to be present at hearings, either in person or remotely; that a respondent could appear remotely, through internet video; that OATH could reduce a violation, if it finds doing so to be in the interests of justice, subject to a review by TLC; that any duplicate notice of violation should be automatically dismissed and, finally, it would establish hearing timeliness requirements to facilitate prompt adjudication of violations.

The Independent Drivers Guild has also opposed a new New York State congestion tax on for-hire vehicles that will take effect in January and raise the average per trip tax to $5 per trip on app-based vehicles like Uber and Lyft with trips that enter Manhattan below 96th St. The same $20 fare would be taxed at a little over $3 per trip in taxis. See the IDG’s analysis of that upcoming tax here. The Guild has called for state legislators to repeal and replace that unfair tax.

Media Contact: [email protected]

News

NYC Sets Nation’s First Minimum Wage for App-Based Drivers

After a two year worker-led campaign by the Independent Drivers Guild, New York City officials voted Tuesday morning to set the nation’s first minimum pay rate for app-based drivers. The rate is set at $17.22 per hour after expenses ($26.51 per hour gross), which the city Taxi and Limousine Commission calculated as the contractor equivalent of New York City’s employee minimum wage of $15 per hour (effective 12/31/18). The rules come in response to a massive campaign by the IDG including a petition signed by 16,000 drivers and many months of rallies, research, and lobby days as well as thousands of calls and letters to city officials. The pay rules will go into effect in 30 days and will bring desperately needed relief to more than 70,000 working families who are struggling to get by on the current pay rate of $11.90 per hour after expenses. The new pay floor will raise driver pay by over $9,600 per year, according to the commission’s analysis.

“Today we brought desperately needed relief to 80,000 working families. All workers deserve the protection of a fair, livable wage and we are proud to be setting the new bar for contractor workers’ rights in America,” said Jim Conigliaro, Jr., founder of the Independent Drivers Guild. “We are thankful to the Mayor, Commissioner Joshi and the Taxi and Limousine Commission, City Council Member Brad Lander and all of the city officials who listened to and stood up for drivers.”

“I’m proud that my bill will make New York City the first major U.S. city to establish a minimum pay standard and living wage requirement for Uber and Lyft drivers,” said Council Member Brad Lander. “I’m thrilled the TLC is voting to finalize the rules today, which will protect drivers, level the playing field and support accessibility. Huge thanks to the Independent Drivers Guild for organizing tirelessly around this issue and for ringing the alarm bell on driver pay.”

“People told us we could never win, not against billion dollar companies like Uber and Lyft. But we proved that when workers come together, nothing is impossible,” said IDG member and driver for apps like Uber and Lyft Hailing “Henry” Chen.

In the two years since the Independent Drivers Guild first called on the city to establish a pay floor, the Guild has waged a massive, worker-led campaign. See the timeline here. More than 16,000 drivers signed the IDG’s petition to require a minimum pay rate for apps like Uber and Lyft. To force action, the IDG filed a formal rulemaking petition in March and the city responded in May that it planned to act on pay rules this summer. In August, the city council passed and Mayor de Blasio signed legislation sponsored by Council Member Brad Lander requiring the Taxi and Limousine Commission to set minimum payments for drivers for high volume app-based for-hire vehicle services like Uber and Lyft.

The new rules include the following policies originally proposed by the IDG:

The IDG used the same regulatory and legislative tactics to require Uber to add a tipping option to the app last year. Just months after the city greenlighted the IDG’s proposed tipping rules in April 2017, Uber added an in-app tipping option not only for New York City (its biggest market) but for drivers across the U.S.

The IDG has also won first of their kind benefits for app-based and Black Car drivers, securing vision and 24/7 telemedicine health benefits this summer, as well as a death benefit for drivers killed on the job and free flu shots.

The Independent Drivers Guild is an affiliate of the Machinists Union which has represented and organized Black Car drivers for more than 20 years in New York City. We are Uber, Lyft, Juno, and Via drivers united for a fair for-hire vehicle industry.

IDG Fair Pay Campaign: By The Numbers

 

News | Press Releases

Tuesday AM Uber, Lyft Drivers Rally Ahead of Vote on Landmark Livable Wage: Vote for Fair Pay

Drivers Guild Led Two Year Campaign for Fair Pay, Would Mean Raise of over $9,000/yr for More than 70,000 Drivers — Starting in 30 Days

 

New York, New York — On Tuesday morning at 8:30 AM, members of the Independent Drivers Guild will hold a rally calling for fair pay ahead of the vote of New York City’s Taxi and Limousine Commission on the final pay rules for app-based for-hire vehicle drivers. Drivers will also thank the TLC for putting forward the landmark rules for a vote. The commission will convene at 10 AM to vote on the final rules.

 

The IDG, which represents and advocates for more than 70,000 app-based drivers in New York City, petitioned for and has led a two year campaign for the rules which would set a pay floor for drivers for the first time and require that drivers be paid “out of town pay” for return trips to the city after providing an out of town ride. As contractors, app-based drivers are not protected by minimum wage laws in the U.S. In New York City, drivers currently make $11.90 per hour in take home pay after expenses according to the updated city analysis urged by the IDG, well under the city’s minimum wage (currently $13, but will be $15 starting 12/31/18). If passed, the proposed rules will go into effect in 30 days and raise pay by at least $9,600 per year for 90 percent of the drivers for high volume app-based for-hire vehicle services in the city (Uber, Lyft, Via and Juno) according to the TLC.

What: “Vote for Fair Pay” Rally
When: 8:30 AM
Where: Outside 33 Beaver St, NYC (TLC Headquarters)
Who: Members of the Independent Drivers Guild – We are Uber, Lyft, Juno and Via Drivers united for a more fair industry

See Timeline of the Campaign and what’s new in the final version of the rules here.

“This vote has been a long time coming. Thousands of drivers have rallied, lobbied, petitioned, made calls, and flyered over the last two years to get to this point. More than 80,000 families in our city depend on the earnings of an app-based driver. We cannot allow Silicon Valley companies to exploit hard working New Yorkers with sub minimum wage pay. Passing these rules will help thousands of working families and send a clear message that New York stands up for worker rights,” said Jim Conigliaro, Jr., President of the Independent Drivers Guild, an affiliate of the Machinists Union which has represented and organized Black Car drivers for more than 20 years in New York City. 

More than 16,000 drivers signed the IDG’s petition to require a minimum pay rate for apps like Uber and Lyft. To force action, the IDG filed a formal rulemaking petition in March and the city responded in May that it planned to act on pay rules this summer. In August, the city council passed and Mayor de Blasio signed legislation sponsored by Council Member Brad Lander requiring the Taxi and Limousine Commission to set minimum payments for drivers for high volume app-based for-hire vehicle services like Uber and Lyft. The IDG used the same regulatory and legislative tactics to require Uber to add a tipping option to the app last year. Just months after the city greenlighted the IDG’s proposed tipping rules in April 2017, Uber added an in-app tipping option not only for New York City (its biggest market) but for drivers across the U.S.

 

The Independent Drivers Guild is an affiliate of the Machinists Union which has represented and organized Black Car drivers for more than 20 years in New York City. We are Uber, Lyft, Juno, and Via drivers united for a fair for-hire vehicle industry.