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Uber Joins Lyft In Manipulating Driver Access to App in NYC

City Failed to Block Uber and Lyft From Flouting Pay Rules As Called for By Drivers Guild

New York, NY — Today, Uber announced the company would start manipulating access to its app for New York City drivers, in a move that violates the intent of the city’s pay rules, including blocking access to the app for some drivers and requiring them to drive to areas with more demand in order to log on. The company announced this new policy in an email to drivers today and claimed it was in response to the city’s TLC regulations and the response from other companies, such as Lyft.” The move follows similar action by Lyft and months of complaints from the Independent Drivers Guild calling for the city’s Taxi and Limousine Commission to take enforcement action to block such actions as violations of the city’s pay rules. The app company actions are expected to reduce pay by failing to track all of the drivers’ working time and reducing opportunities to work as well as limiting the ability of drivers to decide where and when to work.

“The app companies are stomping all over the city’s rules and the Taxi and Limousine Commission is doing nothing to stop them. This is exactly what we told the TLC would happen,” said Brendan Sexton, Executive Director of the IDG, a Machinists Union affiliate which represents and advocates for more than 80k app based drivers in NYC. “For months we warned that if the city failed to take enforcement action against Lyft for flouting the spirit of the pay rules, that the other apps would follow suit and drivers’ pay would suffer. Already thousands of drivers are struggling to pay their bills because Lyft is blocking them from the app. Now 80,000 New York City families will pay the price because the TLC refused to stand up for drivers and crackdown on the app companies.”

Over 100 IDG members gathered at City Hall earlier this week to call for the city to abolish the TLC due to its failure to stand up for drivers, including on this issue of enforcing the pay rules. The Guild also called for a Drivers’ Bill of Rights this week, which specifically included blocking apps from trying to get around the pay rules. IDG specifically called for TLC enforcement action for months to prevent this from happening, starting with a letter in June:  https://drivingguild.org/2019/06/21/letter-to-tlc/ . IDG also testified about this issue at a TLC hearing in July, calling attention to the fact that Lyft was using this policy to further enrich the company by giving preferential access to drivers who pay them upwards of $400 per week to rent a vehicle from Lyft’s Express Drive program. IDG also testified on this at a City Hall rally and City Council hearing this week, including testimony and screenshots from IDG member and Lyft driver Tina Raveneau, showing that she was blocked from the Lyft app for all but a four hour shift 5am-9pm Monday through Thursday, a shift that does not even work for her as a single mother of a school-aged child. The TLC failed to act and failed to include any further regulatory guidance during its summer rulemaking, despite having the clear opportunity to do so.

EXCERPT FROM JUNE LETTER:

In the Commission’s statement of basis and purpose for the pay rules, it clearly states that these rules establish a minimum per-trip payment formula that takes into account “drivers’ total working time, both time spent driving passengers as well as time waiting for a dispatch and then traveling to pick up passengers.” Drivers are paid by mile and minute rates which are determined using a utilization rate which works as a multiplier so that drivers are compensated for the minutes and miles with and without a rider in the vehicle.

If an app company simply stops counting the miles and minutes when a driver is waiting for dispatch or traveling to their next pick up location by logging drivers out of the app, the company is not making dispatch more efficient. The drivers are still driving those miles and waiting those minutes. But now those miles and minutes are not accounted for in the pay formula, so driver pay rates go down. If all of the drivers’ miles and minutes are not counted toward the utilization rate, it means drivers aren’t getting paid for those miles and minutes.

Given the competitive, race to the bottom nature of the high volume app-based for-hire vehicle services, we urge the Commission to take swift action to stop Lyft and any other app companies tempted to follow suit from enacting policies that manipulate access to the app in a way that would obscure and fail to account for the “drivers’ total working time, both time spent driving passengers as well as time waiting for a dispatch and then traveling to pick up passengers.”

Furthermore, we call on the commission and city leaders to switch the power dynamic that enables app companies to manipulate thousands of hard working drivers in our city. By limiting new TLC drivers’ licenses instead of limiting vehicles, the city can empower the more than 70,000 New Yorkers who drive for-hire vehicles for a living. Instead of having app companies kick excess drivers off their apps, companies would have to compete for workers with better pay or policies. Amending the cap policy in this way would also give workers the option of ownership rather than being beholden to predatory leasing companies.


Read the Drivers’ Bill of Rights here.

The Independent Drivers Guild, a Machinists Union affiliate, petitioned for and won the nation’s first minimum wage for Uber and Lyft drivers in NYC. IDG represents and advocates for more than 80,000 for-hire vehicle drivers in NYC.
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Driver Bill of Right

Independent Drivers Guild Calls for Drivers’ Bill of Rights and to Abolish the Failing TLC

 Uber/Lyft Drivers Protest TLC Failures, Inaction on Abuses and Pay Shortfall

 

New York, NY — Uber and Lyft Drivers with the Independent Drivers Guild rallied at City Hall this morning to call for a Drivers Bill of Rights ahead of a City Council oversight hearing regarding the Taxi and Limousine Commission (TLC). Citing the Commission’s failure to protect the livelihoods of thousands of for-hire vehicle drivers, the Drivers Guild called on the city to abolish the TLC and create a new modern agency with more City Council oversight. City Council Transportation Chair Ydanis Rodriguez and Council Member Rafael L. Espinal Jr. joined the Guild for the rally for drivers rights and called for reorganization of the TLC.

 

“Drivers are dying, families are going bankrupt. How many lives must be destroyed, how many drivers must we lose to suicide before we see change? It’s time for reform, tear down the failing Taxi and Limousine Commission and start over. Today we are calling for the TLC to be abolished,” said Independent Drivers Guild Executive Director Brendan Sexton. “Make no mistake about it, this is an emergency.The TLC failed to act in a timely manner on the taxi medallion crisis and now they are failing to act with regard to the app-based industry. As the TLC turns Uber and Lyft into another failed medallion system, tens of thousands of families across our city are already paying the price.”

 

The Drivers Guild led a years long campaign to win landmark minimum wage pay rules for app-based drivers in New York City, but pay and enforcement are falling short. The city rules were supposed to increase pay for 80,000 drivers by $10,000 per year but the city’s own data says pay is falling $4,000 short of the minimum wage target.

 

New TLC rules further threaten app-based drivers’ livelihoods, including rules to ban rooftop ads for for-hire vehicles which could raise wages by $3,600 per year and extending the vehicle cap, which has left thousands of drivers stuck saying paying more to rent a vehicle than it would cost to own. IDG has long called for limits on new drivers rather than capping vehicles. Limiting drivers makes the workers more valuable to companies and apps would be forced to compete with better pay and working conditions. Limiting vehicles increases expenses by thousands of dollars per year for thousands of low income drivers.

 The Guild called for the City Council to step in and protect drivers with a drivers’ bill of rights.

Drivers Guild Calls for Drivers Bill of Rights. Read the Drivers’ Bill of Rights here.

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Uber/Lyft Drivers Call On City Council To Hold Emergency Hearings

Uber/Lyft Drivers Call On City Council To Hold Emergency Hearings In wake of TLC Ignoring Drivers, City Leaders

Questions Loom on Impact on Pay, Leasing Costs, Deactivations for Tens of Thousands of Drivers


NYC TLC Risks Livelihood of Tens of Thousands of New Yorkers, Defying Calls From Drivers, City Council Speaker, City Council and Community Leaders To Delay Vote, Passes Extreme Uber/Lyft Rules

 

New York, NY — On Wednesday, August 7, the Taxi and Limousine Commission (TLC) defied the will of city council leaders and thousands of drivers by rushing through a vote on new proposed regulations that would have a massive impact on the more than 80,000 New Yorkers who make their living as app-based for-hire vehicle (FHV) drivers — and could devastate thousands of these families. The Independent Drivers Guild had urged the TLC to delay the vote until the effects of these proposals on FHV drivers were better understood. Numerous city council leaders and community organizations had also called on the TLC to delay the vote on these rules. Now the Guild is calling for emergency City Council hearings on the rules and the impacts on high volume FHV drivers.

“The city is gambling with the livelihoods of eighty thousand low income New York families by rushing through these rules. It is disappointing to see the city ignore the calls to delay the vote from drivers, the City Council Speaker, the Transportation Committee Chairman and numerous other City Council and community leaders,” said Independent Drivers Guild member Tina Raveneau, who drives for Lyft and Uber.

“The city council must act quickly to rein in the Taxi and Limousine Commission and call for immediate hearings to answer the numerous questions about the impact on drivers that the commission refused or was unable to answer before today’s vote,” added Raveneau. “In particular the Council must demand answers on the impact of rules thus far on driver pay, costs, and deactivations. We call on the Council to require the commission to: stop issuing unlimited new TLC drivers licenses instead of blocking drivers from owning their own vehicles; end predatory leasing with caps on lease costs; revoke TLC vehicle licenses from predatory companies and make those available to TLC drivers harmed by the cap; enforce the pay rules and end the predatory manipulation of app access; require high volume for-hire vehicle companies to establish due process procedures before deactivating drivers.”


The IDG is a Machinists Union affiliate which represents and advocates for more than 70,000 app-based drivers in NYC. We are Uber, Lyft, Juno and Via Drivers United for a more fair industry.  Follow us on twitter at @drivingguild

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Tomorrow AM: NYC TLC to Vote on Uber/Lyft Limits That Could Harm Thousands of Drivers

Wednesday 10 AM: NYC TLC Expected to Vote on City Proposals That Could Devastate Thousands of Low Income For-Hire Vehicle Drivers

See IDG Member Tina Raveneau’s powerful testimony before the committee last month https://www.facebook.com/watch/?v=2183705015085667

New York, NY — On Wednesday, August 7, the Taxi and Limousine Commission (TLC) is expected to vote on new proposed regulations that would have a massive impact on the more than 80,000 New Yorkers who make their living as app-based for-hire vehicle (FHV) drivers — and could devastate thousands of these families. The Independent Drivers Guild has urged the TLC to delay the vote until the effects of these proposals on FHV drivers are better understood. Numerous city council leaders and community organizations have also called on the TLC to delay the vote on these rules.

“Until the effects of the city’s proposals on drivers are better understood, we urge the Taxi and Limousine Commission to hold off on voting on these rules. To rush these rules through now is gambling with the livelihood of more than 80,000 New York families,” said Brendan Sexton, executive director of the Independent Drivers Guild. “It puts thousands of low-income families at unnecessary risk. The vehicle cap is already costing low wage drivers thousands of dollars per year, and all indications are that the proposal to limit FHVs in Manhattan could devastate thousands more. As a long term policy, the vehicle cap enriches big fleet owners, apps and rental companies at the expense of thousands of low income New Yorkers.  We urge the city to amend the cap policy to empower workers instead of corporations.”

A major component of the city’s FHV rules passed last year will not even go into effect until February 2020 (the company-specific utilization rates, which were intended in part to incentivize apps to reduce FHV cruising time without a customer). The city is set to vote on a new set of similar but much more restrictive rules limiting FHV cruising in Manhattan in all but the pre-dawn hours of the morning.

“To pass a new set of similar but much more restrictive rules limiting FHVs in Manhattan before we even see the impacts of the first rules is rash,” added Sexton.

“The vehicle cap is blocking thousands of Lyft and Uber drivers like me from licensing our own vehicles and it leaves us stuck paying thousands of dollars more each year to rent cars. We are urging the Commission to amend the cap policy so that it doesn’t continue to harm the livelihood of hard working drivers who want to own their vehicle,” said Independent Drivers Guild member and app-based driver Tina Raveneau.

See Raveneau’s powerful testimony before the committee last month https://www.facebook.com/watch/?v=2183705015085667

The IDG is a Machinists Union affiliate which represents and advocates for more than 70,000 app-based drivers in NYC. We are Uber, Lyft, Juno and Via Drivers United for a more fair industry.  Follow us on twitter at @drivingguild

 

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Independent Drivers Guild Warns City Proposals To Limit For-Hire Vehicles Could Devastate Thousands of Families

Independent Drivers Guild Warns City Proposals To Limit For-Hire Vehicles Could Devastate Thousands of Families

Proposed Rules Are Already Harming Thousands of Low Income Drivers And Could Devastate Thousands More Families if Passed

Prepared Testimony: IDG Testimony

New York, NY — The Independent Drivers Guild today warned New York City officials that unintended consequences of proposed rules are already harming thousands of low income families and could devastate many more if passed without significant changes. New York City’s Taxi and Limousine Commission held a hearing Tuesday on two proposals to regulate the city’s for hire vehicles. The IDG urged the commission to hold off on a vote on these proposals.

Instead, the Guild is urging the city to limit new TLC drivers licenses, a policy that reduces congestion without devastating the more than 70,000 low income New York City families who rely on the income of app-based for-hire vehicle drivers.

“Unintended consequences of these proposed rules are already harming thousands of low income families across our city and could devastate thousands more if passed. We urge the Commission to hold off on voting on these proposals,” said IDG Executive Director Brendan Sexton.

“A permanent vehicle cap incentivizes a return to yellow taxi-like twelve hours shifts, which would be a huge step backward in working conditions for thousands of the city’s professional drivers. And Lyft’s response to the cruising cap proposal is already harming thousands of drivers ability to make a living. It would be irresponsible for this commission to add yet another rule regarding for-hire vehicle utilization before we have even seen the impact of the utilization rules passed in December which go into effect in February,” added Sexton.

The Independent Drivers Guild campaigned for more than two years to win the protection of a minimum wage in New York City and drivers are concerned that the city’s new proposed rules could wipe away those gains for thousands of drivers.

NYC Proposal 1: Extend the “Vehicle Cap” Indefinitely- In June, city officials announced their intent to make the cap on TLC for-hire vehicle licenses permanent. The city council passed a one year moratorium on for-hire vehicle licenses in August 2018. This proposal would extend the vehicle cap indefinitely. The city anticipates this proposal would have a very limited effect on congestion but would cause decreased service and increased wait times in Manhattan. With the lack of affordable options, the TLC also assumes the number of app-based drivers sharing vehicles will triple, which would be a huge step backward in working conditions for the city’s professional drivers.

IDG’s Take From Executive Director Brendan Sexton: “The vehicle cap is a flawed policy. Since the vehicle cap went into effect, the TLC has licensed more than 12,000 new FHV drivers, essentially authorizing as much as 50 million more FHV hours on our streets. The unlimited growth in drivers makes it harder for all for-hire vehicle drivers to make a living. The vehicle cap didn’t stop that growth. What the vehicle cap does is empower predatory leasing and app companies at the expense of low income drivers. Because of the vehicle cap, thousands of existing drivers and all new TLC drivers are stuck renting vehicles instead of licensing their own vehicle. These drivers pay thousands more to rent than it would cost to own — and have no vehicle at the end to show for it. While we could stomach a one year cap, an extended cap is a bad long term policy that empowers predatory leasing companies and app companies at the expense of thousands of New York’s low income drivers.”

IDG’s Take From Member & App-based Driver Tina Raveneau: “The city’s so-called vehicle cap is making drivers like me slaves to the leasing and app companies. It has cost me thousands of dollars already and must not be extended. I am paying thousands of dollars more per year to rent my TLC vehicle than it would cost me to finance my own vehicle. I am a single mom, struggling to get by. Because of this rule, I am stuck throwing my money at these big leasing companies, when I could be building equity in a vehicle I could actually keep – and I am not alone.” [Raveneau is an IDG member who lives in Brooklyn and has been an app-based driver for two and a half years, driving primarily for Lyft but occasionally for Uber.]

NYC Proposal 2: New Cruising Cap To Limit FHVs in Manhattan – The city is proposing to cap the percentage of time Uber, Lyft, Juno and Via drivers can drive in Manhattan’s “core”. The city anticipates this will reduce service and increase wait times in Manhattan.

IDG’s Take From Executive Director Brendan Sexton: “First of all, the city already passed a rule like this in December with company specific utilization rates which haven’t even gone into effect yet – they go into effect in February. To add yet another rule regarding for-hire vehicle utilization before we have even seen the impact of the first rules makes no sense at all.

Second of all, we have already gotten a preview of how the app companies will react to this rule and it is bad news for drivers. Without a cap on drivers, the apps are empowered to manipulate driver access to their apps for the companies’ gains. The city assumed that the app companies first response would be to cut their own profits to a minimum before they start restricting driver access. But it comes as little surprise that the apps are protecting profits at the expense of drivers. App companies have already begun blocking access to the apps for certain drivers, leaving thousands of drivers desperate, behind on bills, and not knowing when they will be able to work next. Lyft, for example, has launched this policy but exempted those drivers who rent or lease vehicles through Lyft’s own leasing program, incentivizing drivers to pay Lyft upwards of $400 per week and further enriching the company.

The city should hit a hard pause on this proposal … at least until we see how the utilization rate policy which starts in February shakes out.”

IDG’s Take From App-based Driver Tina Raveneau: “We already got a preview of how the apps are going to respond to this policy and it’s no surprise to us that drivers are the ones to pay the price. Lyft already reacted to these proposed rules with a policy of logging off drivers who do not rent their cars directly from Lyft. I have relied on my income as a full time Lyft driver for two and a half years and these policies are already hurting my earnings. I end up spending more time on the road driving around waiting for Lyft to let me log on than I ever did before. Without being able to work the hours I used to, I have no choice but to work even longer hours or come up short on my bills. I am scared that this cruising cap idea will make it ten times worse for drivers like me.”

IDG Policy Solution:
The IDG has long called for limiting TLC drivers licenses instead of TLC vehicle licenses. Limiting new TLC drivers would be a much more effective way of limiting for-hire vehicle hours on the street AND it would empower workers instead of harming them.

TLC Drivers are already limited to 12 hour days, so a limit on drivers is a direct way to limit for-hire vehicle hours on our streets. Vehicles, however, can be shared and, in fact, the TLC assumes that the number of shared vehicles in use by drivers for apps like Uber and Lyft will triple in the first year if the vehicle cap is extended. This makes a vehicle cap a worse policy for addressing congestion and a worse policy for workers as sharing vehicles in shift work would be a huge step backward in working conditions for app-based drivers.

“For-hire vehicle drivers have long been exploited and treated as expendable. Limiting new TLC driver licenses is a simple way to flip this dynamic and empower workers instead of empowering app companies, fleet owners, and predatory leasing companies. Limiting the labor pool will require all companies to compete to keep drivers working for them, meaning the competition shifts away from the expendable driver mentality, a race to the bottom on driver pay — and shifts to providing better working conditions, pay and benefits.” said Sexton.

The IDG is a Machinists Union affiliate which represents and advocates for more than 70,000 app-based drivers in NYC. We are Uber, Lyft, Juno and Via Drivers United for a more fair industry. Follow us on twitter at @drivingguild

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Letter to TLC

Taxi and Limousine Commission
33 Beaver St
New York, NY 10004

Dear Acting Commissioner and the Board of Commissioners,

As representatives and advocates for more than 70,000 app-based drivers in New York City we are writing to request urgent enforcement action with regard to a high volume for-hire vehicle company in violation of Commission rules.

 

Yesterday, Lyft informed its New York City drivers that effective June 27, 2019, the company will be subjecting them to new rules that violate the Taxi and Limousine Commission’s pay protection rules, which passed in December of 2018 and went into effect in February of this year.

In a message to New York City drivers as well as a blog post, Lyft announced that it plans to eliminate driver access to the app in periods and areas of low demand and will require drivers who wish to access the app to drive to a location of higher demand or wait until demand increases to access the app. By logging drivers off the app and requiring them to travel to an area of higher demand in order to pick up their next trip, Lyft would be shifting the costs of travel and waiting time onto the drivers and in so doing, violate this commission’s rules.

In the Commission’s statement of basis and purpose for the pay rules, it clearly states that these rules establish a minimum per-trip payment formula that takes into account “drivers’ total working time, both time spent driving passengers as well as time waiting for a dispatch and then traveling to pick up passengers.” Drivers are paid by mile and minute rates which are determined using a utilization rate which works as a multiplier so that drivers are compensated for the minutes and miles with and without a rider in the vehicle.

 

If an app company simply stops counting the miles and minutes when a driver is waiting for dispatch or traveling to their next pick up location by logging drivers out of the app, the company is not making dispatch more efficient. The drivers are still driving those miles and waiting those minutes. But now those miles and minutes are not accounted for in the pay formula, so driver pay rates go down. If all of the drivers’ miles and minutes are not counted toward the utilization rate, it means drivers aren’t getting paid for those miles and minutes.

Given the competitive, race to the bottom nature of the high volume app-based for-hire vehicle services, we urge the Commission to take swift action to stop Lyft and any other app companies tempted to follow suit from enacting policies that manipulate access to the app in a way that would obscure and fail to account for the “drivers’ total working time, both time spent driving passengers as well as time waiting for a dispatch and then traveling to pick up passengers.”

Furthermore, we call on the commission and city leaders to switch the power dynamic that enables app companies to manipulate thousands of hard working drivers in our city. By limiting new TLC drivers’ licenses instead of limiting vehicles, the city can empower the more than 70,000 New Yorkers who drive for-hire vehicles for a living. Instead of having app companies kick excess drivers off their apps, companies would have to compete for workers with better pay or policies. Amending the cap policy in this way would also give workers the option of ownership rather than being beholden to predatory leasing companies.

Thank you in advance for your swift attention to this issue as it serves all parties to ensure there is a universal understanding of the app companies’ obligations not to obscure drivers’ working time in a way that will reduce drivers’ rightful compensation.

Sincerely,

Brendan Sexton
Independent Drivers Guild

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.

Get Started

If you already have a new Engage account set up, Log in Here.

Set up your account now. Join Here.


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.

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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.”

congtax.PNG

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. 

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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.

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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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