News | Press Releases

Regressive Congestion Tax Should be Repealed for ALL For-hire Vehicles

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

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

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

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 It’s a regressive law that should be repealed period.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 This tax is a bad law that should be repealed for all for-hire vehicle trips,” said Independent Drivers Guild Executive Director Brendan Sexton.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

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. 

News | Press Releases

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

Drivers Take Action Across US, Around the World

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

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

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

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

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

News | Press Releases

Mental Health Program Launches for NY Drivers in Wake of Suicides

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Press Releases

Uber and Lyft Drivers Guild Wins Historic Pay Rules

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:

 

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

Media contact: [email protected]

 

News | Press Releases

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

Press Releases

Uber and Lyft Drivers Slam Unfair, Regressive “Congestion” Tax

Worst Congestion Culprits Go Untaxed

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

Taxi

Sales Tax

$1.78

$0.00

Black Car Fund

$0.50

$0.00

Congestion Fee

$2.75

$2.50

Improvement Surcharge (proceeds to Medallion Owners)

$0.00

$0.30

MTA State Surcharge

$0.00

$0.50

Total Taxes and Surcharges

$5.03

$3.30

“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.

Media contact: [email protected]org

Press Releases

Fausto Luna statement

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.

Press Releases

More Than 100 IDG Members Attended NYC Hearing, Call For Livable Wage That Reflects Real Costs

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.

TLC Proposal Memo_10.3.18

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.

Media contact: [email protected]

Press Releases

Drivers Guild Cheers New Law After Two Year Campaign for Livable Wage

Historic Victory for NYC’s Uber/Lyft Drivers Comes on Heels of the Guild Winning Vision and Telemedicine Health Benefits in July

New York, NY — Today, the Independent Drivers Guild joined New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and made brief remarks before he signed historic Uber / Lyft bills into law, including the nation’s first living wage protection for Uber and Lyft drivers. The IDG waged a two year campaign for the pay protections which will give more than 65,000 hard working New York City drivers and their families a desperately needed raise – see the timeline here: https://drivingguild.org/2018/06/29/pay-3/ And IDG’s statement on the bills’ passage here: https://drivingguild.org/2018/08/08/955/

IDG founder Jim Conigliaro, Jr, who has been organizing drivers in this industry since he was sixteen alongside his father with the Machinists Union, told the Mayor and city officials, “Truth is, throughout my time, the City Council and the TLC turned their backs on the black car industry, profiting from its labor while drivers struggled to survive. But this Council, this Mayor and this TLC are changing things.” Conigliaro Jr. also called on the city to stop predatory leasing practices and pass benefit fund legislation to ensure drivers a broader social safety net in addition to the historic vision and health telemedicine benefits the IDG won for drivers this summer through the Black Car Fund.

IDG Member and Uber driver Aziz Bah also spoke, thanking the mayor, the council and the TLC and urging them to always “put the drivers first.”

IDG Fair Pay Campaign: By The Numbers

 

Below is the prepared testimony of Conigliaro, Jr (see video here):

Testimony of Jim Conigliaro Jr., President and Founder

The Independent Drivers Guild

Before Mayor Bill de Blasio

Public Hearing on Introductory Numbers 890-B, 144-B and 838-C

City Hall,  August 14, 2018

Good afternoon, Mayor de Blasio, Council Members, my name is Jim Conigliaro, Jr. and I am speaking today as the founder of the Independent Drivers Guild (IDG), and representative of the Machinists Union (IAM), which the IDG is an affiliate of. We represent and advocate for 65,000 Uber, Lyft, Juno, and Via drivers. Ninety percent of our members are immigrants representing 190 countries and fighting for the American dream. And on behalf of our members, we support this historic package of bills.

I have been organizing black car drivers with my father and the Machinists Union since I was 16. Over the years, we had some success unionizing black car drivers but we were never able to make broader change for all drivers. Never had a voice with the people making the rules.

Truth is, throughout my time, the City Council and the TLC turned their backs on the black car industry, profiting from its labor while drivers struggled to survive. But this Council, this Mayor and this TLC are changing things.

Under the IDG umbrella, and along with all the driver-activists that are here today, the hundreds that turned out during committee meetings, and the over 16,000 drivers that signed the IDG petition demanding a living wage, drivers finally have a voice to make that broad regulatory change. That voice led to the passage of 890-B, requiring the basic protection of a living wage for hard-working drivers and their families who have seen their incomes and quality of life plummet while the app-based companies revenues and profits have soared to record levels.

I want to thank the Mayor and his team — TLC Commissioner Meera Joshi, Jon Paul Lupo and Jeff Lynch; Speaker Corey Johnson and his staff, especially Laura Popa and her team; and Council Members Brad Lander, Steven Levin and their staff for listening to drivers and inviting the IDG to the table on these historic bills.

But we can’t stop here.

It is essential New York City caps leasing costs as soon as possible. App-Based companies will continue nonstop hiring with false promises and this has already led to higher leasing costs.

And while the IDG is successfully expanding the benefits available to drivers through the state’s Black Car Fund, further expansion of the Social Safety Net on the City level is essential.

It’s a new day, but we have a lot of catching up to do in this industry.

Thank you Mr. Mayor, and of course, on behalf of IDG and IAM, I respectfully request that you sign the package of bills before you today.


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Uber and Lyft Drivers Celebrate Passage of Historic Legislation

Uber and Lyft Drivers Celebrate Passage of Historic Legislation

Two Year Campaign By Drivers Leads NYC to Close Minimum Wage Loophole for More than 65,000 Uber/Lyft Drivers

New York, NY — After a two-year campaign by the Independent Drivers Guild, New York City officials voted Wednesday to pass the nation’s first legislation to close the minimum wage loophole for companies like Uber and Lyft and require a minimum pay rate for app-based drivers. The City Council also passed additional FHV bills up for a vote on Wednesday, including the temporary cap on for-hire vehicles and new data reporting requirements. See photo of IDG members rallying in favor of the bills at City hall today with Council Member Brad Lander.

The Independent Drivers Guild, an affiliate of the Machinists Union, represents and advocates for more than 65,000 professional drivers for apps like Uber, Lyft, Via and Juno in New York City. 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. Thousands of drivers came together with the IDG to fight for this legislation, representing a victory for organized labor in a decidedly challenging industry given the lack of rights for workers classified as contractors.

“More than 65,000 working families will be getting a desperately needed raise because of today’s vote. We hope this is the start of a more fair industry not only here in New York City, but all over the world,” said IDG founder Jim Conigliaro, Jr. “We cannot allow the so-called ‘gig economy’ companies to exploit loopholes in the law in order to strip workers of their rights and protections.”

“Workers and New York leaders made history today. It’s not easy taking on Silicon Valley behemoths, but we kept on fighting for what we know is right and today the workers prevailed. We are thankful to the New York City officials who listened to the stories of drivers who are struggling to support their families and stood by us in this fight,” said IDG Executive Director Ryan Price. “In particular, our thanks go out to Speaker Corey Johnson, Council Members Lander and Levin, and everyone at the Taxi and Limousine Commission who has been working with us on this effort for the last two years.”

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. 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.

IDG Fair Pay Campaign: By The Numbers

“Uber and Lyft have had every opportunity to pay drivers fairly, but instead they went out of their way to design new and deceitful ways to slash our pay and take more and more of our hard-earned fares. Meanwhile, they have flooded the streets with more drivers than there is work. It’s cruel to their existing drivers and it is cruel to the new drivers who are going into debt to do a job they wrongly believe will pay off.” said IDG member Hailing “Henry” Chen,  a 26 year old Uber driver who lives in Queens. “The companies are trying to claim they now support fair pay for drivers, but those are lies. They fought this every step of the way. Even after report after report came out showing the apps pay less than minimum wage, the companies denied it and refused to raise our pay. This victory was won by the workers. Only when workers came together to put massive pressure on city officials did they act. ”

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.

See IDG’s memo of support for the bills passed today here.

Media Contact: [email protected] or call Moira Muntz at 703-416-9188