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
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.
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.”
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:
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.
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.
Uber and Lyft Drivers Guild Wins Historic Pay Rules
NYC Sets Nation’s First Minimum Wage for App-Based Drivers
New Pay floor = Raise of at least $9,600 for 70,000 Drivers
New York, NY — 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.
The Independent Drivers Guild, an affiliate of the Machinists Union, represents and advocates for more than 70,000 professional drivers for apps like Uber, Lyft, Via and Juno in New York City. Nearly 90 percent of IDG members drive for apps as their main source of income and nine in ten drivers are immigrants.
“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:
Livable wage raise of at least 40%
Out of town pay for return trips
Higher pay for drivers of wheelchair accessible vehicles
Prohibition on underpaying drivers on certain trips as part of incentive schemes
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
16,000 petition signatures
7,400 emails to city officials
>1700 phone calls to city officials
>500 IDG members/ drivers rallied at City Hall and TLC Hearings
615 drivers signed the first sign on letter in July 2016
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.
New York, NY – The Independent Drivers Guild is denouncing the state’s unfair congestion tax at a hearing held by the city’s Taxi and Limousine Commission today. The Guild, which represents and advocates for more than 70,000 app-based drivers in New York City, also released a new analysis that shows the state tax unfairly targets app-based drivers and riders with a larger tax burden than the taxi portion of the for-hire sector, while also failing to tax the worst congestion culprits: commercial, construction, and delivery vehicles. The new congestion tax will go into effect in January and cost riders $2.75 per trip on for-hire vehicle trips and $2.50 on taxi trips that enter Manhattan below 96th street.
$20 Fare – Taxed $5.03 for App-Based FHV vs $3.30 for Taxi Starting in January, a $20 trip in an app-based vehicle will be taxed $5.
Taxes, Fees, Surcharges
Uber / Lyft
Black Car Fund
Improvement Surcharge (proceeds to Medallion Owners)
MTA State Surcharge
Total Taxes and Surcharges
“The new state congestion tax is an unfair burden to put on the hundreds of thousands of working families who rely on apps like Uber and Lyft for transportation or for their livelihood. The new taxes will be particularly harmful to app-based for hire vehicle riders, whose trips are already much more heavily taxed than taxi trips, and for-hire drivers who are already struggling to make ends meet. For-hire vehicle trips already generate over $260 million per year in sales tax,” said IDG founder Jim Conigliario, Jr. “Meanwhile, the state failed to tax the worst culprits for congestion, the commercial and construction vehicles as well as delivery vehicles for companies like Amazon that double park and block traffic all day, every day. Our city should demand the legislature repeal this sham tax and replace it with a fair tax that targets the real culprits of congestion.”
Written Testimony from IDG President Jim Conigliaro, Jr:
New York state’s “Congestion Tax” is a disaster. It is a regressive tax that will harm the more than half a million working families in our city who rely on for-hire vehicle service for transportation or for their livelihoods without even putting a dent in congestion or the MTA shortfall. The new taxes will be particularly harmful to app-based for hire vehicle riders, whose trips are already much more heavily taxed than taxi trips, and for-hire drivers who are already struggling to make ends meet. Our city should demand the legislature repeal this sham tax and replace it with a fair tax that targets the real culprits of congestion.
With the new state tax on top of existing taxes, Uber and Lyft rides will be taxed $5 on a $20 trip starting in January. For taxis, which are exempt from sales tax, $3 of such a trip will go to MTA taxes, with an additional $0.30 going to an improvement surcharge for medallion owners. Meanwhile the real culprits of congestion – the delivery, commercial and construction vehicles that block the flow of traffic – get off scot-free.
To call this a congestion tax is a lie. Experts agree the new tax will not impact congestion as it only targets one segment of vehicles: for-hire vehicles. Which is exactly the WRONG segment to target. Why?
First of all, the worst culprits for congestion are the commercial and construction vehicles as well as the unregulated delivery vehicles for companies like Amazon and food and grocery deliveries which double park and block traffic all day, every day. But the state’s new tax fails to address these sectors. Apparently, the politicians up in Albany were too busy wooing Amazon to regulate and tax the “Prime Now – Same Day Delivery” and “Free Two Day Shipping” giant that is clogging our city’s streets.
Secondly, New York City has already devised a much smarter way to address the growth in the for-hire vehicle sector. To stop app companies from flooding the streets, the city passed a law requiring apps that put excess drivers on the road to pay drivers much higher rates. The city’s solution attacks the problem of congestion while also making New York City the first in the nation to require a livable, minimum wage for app-based drivers.
Finally, putting the sham of any kind of “congestion” objective aside and looking at the real issue of an MTA bailout, it doesn’t make sense to target Uber and Lyft riders there either. Riders of for-hire vehicles are working people who are already paying more than their fair share of taxes – including over $260 million in sales tax alone on FHV trips in 2017. While taxi trips, which are exempt from New York’s nearly 9% sales tax, generated less than a quarter of that sum in MTA taxes.
In its current form, all this so-called “congestion tax” will do is make it less affordable and less possible for working people to live without cars of their own and harm the livelihood of 100,000 poor immigrant working families. Meanwhile, the big businesses that clog our streets with trucks and the city’s wealthiest don’t have to pay the tax at all. After all, those who rely on private cars and drivers are exempt.
The media is reporting the seventh known suicide in the last year in this industry, and the second of our members to take their lives under pressure of overwhelming debt. It’s a tragedy we wish we could have prevented and our sincere sympathies go out to the friends and family of Fausto Luna.
The For-Hire Vehicle industry is in a far reaching crisis that is affecting thousands of families across our city right now. After years of sub minimum wage pay, mounting bills and punishing shifts, drivers for apps like Uber and Lyft are at the breaking point along with drivers across the for-hire vehicle industry.
Our message to drivers is to take heart: we are SO close to making this industry so much better, and you are not alone. We are about to win a massive raise and we are united in fighting for a fair industry. We encourage all of our members to reach out to NYC Well and get involved in the IDG where we take care of each other like brothers and sisters.
This industry and this job is debilitatingly lonely by design. As a member elegantly said at a meeting: “In here we are brothers, but on the streets we are wolves.” The working conditions of the industry pits people who should be working together as brothers and sisters against one another in a constant battle of who gets the next trip, who cuts who off, and who goes first. Though drivers are with people all day, they are often treated by their passengers as subhuman, alienated from their humanity, and underpaid for it to boot.
But the core of this crisis is economic, which is why we have been fighting for the city to enact a livable wage. It is hard to not be depressed when you are working 60 hours a week and still not making enough money to provide for your family. We also need a crisis response that meets drivers where they are, so we are in the process of establishing a mental health and wellness program including prevention, counseling and crisis response.
We have worked over the last year to create and secure funding for a mental health and wellness plan including hiring a psychologist and social worker. The Independent Drivers Guild has secured a grant from the Black Car Fund for this program and is currently hiring and will be launching the program in the coming months.
New IDG Data: Average Lease Cost is Nearly Triple the City’s Estimate in Pay Proposal
New York, NY — After a two year campaign by the Independent Drivers Guild, New York’s Taxi and Limousine Commission held a hearing TODAY Wednesday, October 3rd on the nation’s first livable wage rules for drivers for apps like Uber and Lyft. The city’s proposed rules, put forward following the Guild’s campaign and regulatory petition, would mean a 22.5% raise for drivers, a pay increase if Uber and Lyft over-hire, and annual cost of living increases.
The proposed pay structure is a vital and revolutionary move toward regulating the app-based industry to make it more fair for working people. However, the Guild found that the city’s proposal underestimates driver costs in several areas, most dramatically in the areas of vehicle lease and rental costs and in the cost of benefits. The IDG, which represents more than 65,000 app-based drivers in New York City, is calling for the Commission to fix the cost estimates in light of this new data and then pass the amended rules swiftly.
While the city estimated lease costs at $635 per month, new data collected by the IDG shows the actual cost incurred by drivers averages nearly three times that. The IDG collected lease data from more than 500 app-based drivers who reported paying an average of more than $1800 per month. This is consistent with the lease prices offered at the city’s major leasing companies for compact sedans. Many leases include industry-specific liability insurance, and some require extra fees to purchase TLC insurance. But even if you combine the city estimates for leasing and insurance ($400/month), the city’s total ($1035 per month) still comes up far short of the average reported by drivers. What’s more, the city’s pay formula assumed that 80 percent of drivers own their vehicles and just twenty percent lease or rent, but multiple IDG surveys found that the breakdown is 60 percent own and 40 percent lease or rent. The IDG is calling on the city to update its pay formula to reflect the reality of drivers’ expenses
Additionally, the city’s proposed pay formula fails to account for the many benefits that employees receive, like health insurance, disability, Unemployment Insurance and several other benefits that drivers must bear the risk for. A report from the Economic Policy Institute analyzing Uber driver pay earlier this year concluded that the cost shifted to drivers for standard benefits equals 14.1 percent of wages. This is a significant expense that is omitted from the city formula.
Furthermore, the $15 per hour salary at the core of the city’s calculations is lower than the industry standard for professional drivers who have obtained specialized licensure, as is required for for-hire vehicle drivers in New York City. For example, minimum pay for the city’s MTA bus drivers is currently $23.85 per hour — and that is before a laundry list of benefits, none of which Uber and Lyft drivers receive and which are not accounted for in the city’s calculations. A fair base rate before expenses would be a minimum of $20 per hour as employees, $22.96 as independent contractors, to bring the FHV sector closer in line with the industry and to account for the lack of benefits.
“For two years, we’ve fought for fair pay rules for New York City drivers. We are pleased that New York is listening to drivers who have long suffered with earnings that fall below minimum wage, but it’s critical that the city get this right. While the city’s proposal has many strong points, the current version underestimates drivers’ costs. The average driver pays nearly triple the cost the city estimated for leases – and a much larger portion of drivers lease than the city’s formula assumes. What’s more, the city formula fails to account for the costs shifted to drivers to pay for their own benefits like health care – the pay rate needs to reflect that,” said Ryan Price, Executive Director of the Independent Drivers Guild.
“Working families like mine are desperate for a raise and quick passage of these rules, but the city can’t call this a livable wage if the numbers do not reflect reality. We are urging the city to correct their cost estimates and then pass these rules without further delay,” said IDG member Tina Raveneau who drives for apps like Uber and Lyft. “As a working, single mom, I really appreciate that the city is taking action for fair pay, but they need to know their numbers are flat out wrong and they are missing some of the big expenses other employees take for granted. I pay $429 per week to lease my little Nissan Sentra compact sedan – that is triple the cost estimate in the city’s proposal. The city’s math assumes the average driver is paying less than $150 per week, which simply is not the case. Look at the ads at all the major companies, leases START at $350 or $375 – and that’s for little old cars.”
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 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. See more on the city’s rulemaking process here. 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, Uber added a 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 International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers and represents and advocates for more than 65,000 app-based drivers in New York City. We are Uber, Lyft, Juno, and Via drivers united for a fair for-hire vehicle industry.