Independent Drivers Guild Led Massive Protest Caravan Over Brooklyn Bridge, Up to Gracie Mansion, and to Uber Headquarters
New York, NY — On Tuesday morning thousands of Uber and Lyft drivers with the Independent Drivers Guild led a slow vehicle procession over the Brooklyn Bridge and up to Gracie Mansion to call for the Mayor and City Council’s help in response to new app changes from Uber and Lyft in New York City that will harm drivers’ ability to make a living. Drivers who were able to park did so and rallied outside Gracie mansion. The caravan then continued on to Uber Headquarters in Manhattan where many drivers parked and protested outside the Uber office and others circled the block honking.
Approximately 6,000 drivers participated in the action which slowed rush hour traffic to a near stand still in a procession that stretched across the city at times covering the full length from the Brooklyn Bridge up FDR Drive to Gracie Mansion.
Starting on Tuesday Uber launched new policies to kick drivers off the apps between trips and in areas of lower demand in order to avoid paying drivers as required by New York City’s pay regulations. Lyft enacted a similar policy earlier this summer to protests from the Drivers Guild. The New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission has failed to take action, so the Drivers Guild is calling for the Mayor and City Council to stop the apps from violating the pay rules in an attempt to scam drivers out of fair pay and top pass a Drivers’ Bill of Rights. The Guild, a Machinists Union affiliate representing and advocating for New York’s 80,000 app-based drivers, led a two year campaign to win the nation’s first minimum pay rate for Uber and Lyft drivers. Rules which the apps are now violating.
“Uber and Lyft are flouting New York City’s driver pay rules to avoid paying drivers what they have earned and the city’s Taxi and Limousine Commission has done nothing to stop them. Today drivers are saying: We will not be ignored. We are calling on the Mayor and City Council to step in and help us fight back against the app companies. More than 1,000 Uber and Lyft drivers logged off the apps to take part in a procession over the Brooklyn Bridge and through Manhattan to Gracie Mansion today to protest the app companies and demand action from the city,” said Brendan Sexton, Executive Director of the IDG, a Machinists Union affiliate which represents and advocates for more than 80,000 app based drivers in NYC. “For months we warned that if the city failed to take enforcement action against Lyft for violating 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 with Uber following suit more than 80,000 New York City families will pay the price if the city refuses to stand up for drivers and crackdown on the app companies.”
Council Member Brad Lander who sponsored the law requiring a minimum pay rate for Uber and Lyft drivers has also spoken out against the app companies’ actions and voiced his support for the drivers today.
“Kicking drivers off the app between rides and controlling where and when drivers can work directly undermines Uber and Lyft’s pretense of employing independent contractors who set their own hours. Far from providing flexible work schedules and a solution to transit deserts, Uber and Lyft are forcing drivers to avoid serving low-income outer boroughs and limiting their ability to make a living wage, in violation of the spirit of NYC Council’s ground-breaking legislation to guarantee for-hire drivers a minimum hourly wage. These are the same companies that have been arguing that they don’t control their drivers’ work and it isn’t central to their business model. Uber and Lyft can’t have it both ways. Either recognize drivers as employees entitled to minimum wage, overtime pay, health insurance and all the rights that entails, or follow the law we passed to ensure that drivers make a fair wage,” said Councilmember Brad Lander.
Today’s protest shows growing driver anger at the app companies and the city’s failure to protect driver pay. Just last week more than 100 IDG members gathered at CIty Hall 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 the city to pass a Drivers’ Bill of Rights, which specifically included blocking apps from trying to get around the pay rules.
For months Lyft has been kicking New York City drivers off the app to avoid paying them and the Independent Drivers Guild has been calling on the city to take aggressive enforcement action, warning that without enforcement other apps may follow suit. On Friday, just days after more than 100 IDG members rallied at City Hall calling for action, Uber announced in an email to drivers that it would indeed begin the same practice to flout the city’s pay rules on Tuesday.
In June, the Guild wrote a letter to the City’s Taxi and Limousine Commission calling for enforcement on this issue and drivers testified to this issue 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. However, the city’s Taxi and Limousine Commission failed to act and failed to include any further regulatory guidance during its summer rulemaking, despite having the clear opportunity to do so.
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.
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.
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.
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.
After years of fighting for a living minimum wage, IDG drivers won a nearly $10,000 annual raise. The TLC agreed these companies can’t continue to get richer while drivers struggle to get by. But just two days before our long overdue pay raise, Lyft and Juno sued to say they just can’t afford it.
This attack on working New Yorkers is unacceptable. Together, we will fight this injustice and expose your greed and malicious indifference to the needs of those who make your company a success. Stop this lawsuit, implement the pay raise, and respect the drivers who are making you rich.