This is the written comment from the Independent Drivers Guild written on behalf of our 50,000 members:
This is the written comment from the Independent Drivers Guild written on behalf of our 50,000 members:
Today has been marked on my calendar as “doomsday” for a few weeks. But today, we show the Taxi and Limousine Commission, Uber, and Lyft who really has the power: the workers, united.
Right now, your union needs you to email the Taxi and Limousine Commission and tell them to meet our five demands:
Stand up and tell the Taxi and Limousine Commission what your demands are. Ride hail companies make millions by dividing us. It’s time for us to unite under the Independent Drivers Guild and support one another.
Power to the brothers and sisters at the TLC hearing speaking on all of our behalves today.
P.S. We are only as strong as our members. Become a dues-paying member of the IDG today. Let’s build worker power in the For-Hire Vehicle industry.
The Independent Drivers Guild (IDG) is hiring an experienced and self-driven individual interested in helping build our organization from the ground up. We are an affiliate of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAMAW, Machinists Union) and represent 50,000 app-based For-Hire Vehicle workers in New York City.
New York City For-Hire Vehicle workers are required by the Taxi and Limousine Commission to take multiple classes including Defensive Driving, Wheelchair Accessible Vehicle training, a 24 hour class to learn tools of the trade, and others. Right now, classes are primarily provided by for-profit companies making millions of dollars by charging well above cost.
We are seeking an experienced Education Programs Director to start up, maintain, and perpetually grow our education programs. Our goal with this position is to become a main provider of the classes for free, paid, or very affordably, to provide nonessential classes to aid self-development, and help our members save thousands of dollars per year while educating workers about unionism and their rights.
These would be the primary responsibilities of the Education Programs Director:
Start up and grow programs:
Candidate should possess the following experience: project management, excellent verbal and written communication skills, maintaining with relationships with partners organizations or governmental groups, group facilitation, coworking with Google Docs, logistics coordination, developing programs or curriculum (preferably for English as a Second Language Learners).
Candidate would preferably possess background knowledge and/or experience in several of the following fields: adult education, experience navigating regulatory apparatuses, English as a Second Language curriculum writing, vocational education, labor organizing, workforce development, business development, and sustainable practices.
Candidate should have be interested in labor unions and their role in the economic and political realities of today, and interested in helping the Machinists Union build worker power for a fair platform economy.
Please visit IDG.ms/EPD to apply.
There are two key dates closing in very quickly: April 6th, and April 17th.
On April 6th, thanks to the input of IDG members, activists like you, and years of pressure from the Machinists Union and other industry leaders, the Taxi and Limousine Commission will have a public hearing to consider regulating driver pay in the For-Hire Vehicle industry for the first time ever.
They hear us and are listening.
April 17th is the deadline for the Taxi and Limousine Commission to accept our proposed rule which would require that all ride-hailing apps have a tipping option to operate in New York City. What does that mean for you? Both Uber and Via would have to implement a tipping option. This could create hundreds of millions of dollars of new income in the industry and a raise of as much as $13,000 annually to each full time member.
If you want to win a tipping option, email the TLC and tell them you support our proposed rule.
We have been circulating a letter of support for a tipping option and have had a very positive response. So far, the following elected officials and organizations have declared their support of our proposed rule:
New York State AFL-CIO
New York City Central Labor Council, AFL-CIO
Transport Workers Union, Local 100
International Union of Journeymen and Allied Trades
Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union
Utility Workers Union of America, Local 1-2
National Domestic Workers Alliance
Black Car Assistance Corporation
SubContinent Peace Foundation
The Rideshare Guy
La cooperativa del taxista de NY
Council Member Ydanis Rodriguez, Chairperson of the Committee on Transportation
Council Member Karen Koslowitz
Council Member Rory Lancman
Council Member Mark Treyger
Council Member Daneek Miller
Council Member Corey Johnson
Council Member Debi Rose
Council Member Darlene Mealy
If we stand in solidarity with one another, all 50,000 of us can be an unbeatable force in New York City. We will win a fair For-Hire Vehicle industry. Email the TLC now.
Already the Independent Drivers Guild is being viewed as a leader in the space of getting drivers like you benefits, and others are looking to us for guidance on policies for workers nationwide. Now you can help shape benefits for For-Hire Vehicle workers across the country.
The Independent Drivers Guild works to put more money in your pocket and win better working conditions for all. We know it’s vital for the Guild to provide healthcare, disability, a retirement fund, and group accident insurance. We will have good news to report to you soon. Your input will help us set a standard for providing these benefits, and you can find the benefits and discounts currently available at members.drivingguild.org
Please take the survey below to help set a standard for workers’ benefits:
The Guild is fighting for both, we don’t have to choose between a tipping option OR higher pay. Both things should happen, and we’ve been on public record with the Taxi and Limousine Commission in support of pay protections since our inception. Out of precaution, we included language in our petition to the Taxi and Limousine Commission to end the rule if it is any way a hindrance to implementing pay protection. It specifically states: “This rule shall be in effect indefinitely or until the Taxi and Limousine Commission implements a regulatory scheme that ensures drivers are earning a living wage.”
The petition we submitted requires the Taxi and Limousine Commission make a yes or no decision on a proposed rule within 60 days (and counting) to approve a rule that implements a tipping option. The rules for petitioning to the TLC are written in the laws that govern the Taxi and Limousine Commission.
Our proposed rule states: “All applications for smartphones, tablets, laptops, notebooks or any other interface used to arrange and pay for For-Hire Vehicle (FHV) rides throughout New York City and under the jurisdiction of the Taxi and Limousine Commission (TLC) are hereby required to have an in-application gratuity option. The entire amount of the gratuity option is to be given directly to the driver.“
The rule we proposed is very open, it only requires some kind of option. That could mean that the tip is included in the fare, it could mean that it’s a minimum tip of 20%, as long as the companies aren’t taking a commission from our member, it’s flexible. The Taxi and Limousine Commission also may change the rule before implementing it—which means they could make it like the Taxicab Passenger Enhancements Project rule where it’s a minimum opt-out tip of 20%, or they could make it so if there is an optional tipping option after the fare, it has to always appear, not only when you rate five stars and it disappears after two hours.
Within the Black Car industry, absolutely. Under Chapter 52 of the New York City Administrative Code, including but not limited to §52-04 sub paragraph (a)(2) requires that the TLC ”Set and enforce standards and conditions of service.” And subparagraph (a)(4) requires the TLC “Establish and enforce standards to ensure all Licensees are and remain financially stable.”
A huge part of the problem that Uber created along with the narrative that ‘tips aren’t necessary’ was a culture against gratuity for attentive, safe service. As a result, even cash tips are a rarity.
If the Taxi and Limousine Commission agrees that tips are a necessary part of our member’s pay, and a way for driving to be more of a dignified profession, it will attack the anti-tip narrative at the core. Some people will always tip in cash (most likely other service industry workers), but the customers that don’t know that a tip is expected, or don’t carry cash with them will be much more likely to leave a tip. After the Taxi and Limousine Commission imposed a tip option by credit card in Yellow Cabs, 93-94% of their taxi customers began to tip. In fact, in the first half of 2015, 97% of customers who rode in a taxi solo and paid by credit card took advantage of that option, most tipping at 20%, according to a Quartz analysis of data from the New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission. This may be a huge improvement from the rare cash tip of today.
Also, you should be reporting your cash tips anyways.
No. Right now For-Hire Vehicle workers are classified as independent contractors so they’re exempt from wage laws, including laws about a tipped labor wage. However, the Taxi and Limousine Commission is responsible for regulation of the working conditions and pay of our members within the current organization of the industry. This industry is new and constantly changing, which makes it difficult to regulate, but every year without a tipping option our members lose between $3,000-$13,000 per year, conservatively, for no logical reason.
In the first Works Council meeting, where member-activists met with Uber management to discuss issues on the job, their argument, and reason they want to keep our members from making more money is because ‘they’re special.’ Meanwhile, we’re defaulting on our credit cards, on food stamps, dependent on the Affordable Care Act, and likely never going to retire. We think Uber likely refuses to implement a tip option to keep our income low so we have to work longer hours to make ends meet.
No. Uber had a tipping option for years until they were sued for skimming from the tips (our petition prevents that). Tipping is a standard of the For-Hire Vehicle industry which provides necessary income for our members to make ends meet.
Many people are misinformed that For-Hire Vehicle workers are paid enough to make a tip unnecessary, or that tips are included in the fare (they haven’t been for years)—but that doesn’t make any sense when our members are working dangerously long shifts to get by. Just with the per-mile fare, since 2011, Uber has gone from advertising their main per-mile rate of $4.90 per mile all the way down to to $1.75 now–and more than doubled the commission that they charge our members on every ride from 10 percent to as high as 28 percent. As a result, according to a survey from us, more than 30 percent of our members cannot afford healthcare.
Yes! If our member is tipped at an average of two dollars per trip which is the average for Taxis, our average member may earn over $12,000 a year in tips. Tips are necessary to buy gas for the week, get an oil change, or even just buy food for our families.
Thanks to a petition submitted by the Independent Drivers Guild and the Machinists Union District 15, the Taxi and Limousine Commission has 56 days to decide if apps like Uber should be required to provide a tipping option.
Do your part and make your voice count. Call the TLC and tell them you support a tipping option:
Here’s a suggestion on what to say:
Hi, I’m YOUR NAME and I’m a TLC-licensed driver. Please support drivers and make tipping easy in the black car industry.
We can win a tipping option. We we have to work in solidarity to do it.
Today we take the next step to win a tipping option on the Uber app. We submitted a petition that requires the Taxi and Limousine Commission commissioner 60 days to consider a rule to mandate a tipping option for app-based companies industry-wide.
What decides if we are going to win this option? Pressure. Sign and share this petition now.
While writing this, over 8,200 people have signed our petition pushing Uber to implement a tipping option. If you’re not one of them, sign and share this now: IDG.ms/TIPPING
Independent Drivers Guild
PS, get instant text updates about this campaign (it’ll be handy) by texting TIPPING to 64336.
Being a professional For-Hire Vehicle driver is one of the most dangerous jobs in the United States—and that danger is compounded by a lack of access to affordable benefits.
For years, the Machinists Union—our mother organization—has been advocating for more benefits for working drivers. The Guild’s founder has continued that effort as a board member of the Black Car Fund, which provides workers’ compensation to black car workers, and is pleased that he and his colleagues on the Fund Board are announcing a new $50,000 death benefit to your family if you are killed on the job.
None of us likes to think about the risk of injury or death, but on-the-job injuries do occur. Already, the Guild has helped drivers successfully apply for workers compensation through the Black Car Fund. The addition of a death benefit is an important protection for your family.
The announcement of the new death benefit comes after a black car driver was struck and killed on the side of the Long Island Expressway last year. The driver, an immigrant from Pakistan and living in Bay Shore, Long Island, left behind a wife and four young children.
We know you, and many drivers like you, are desperate for the basic benefits to protect your family. This is just one of the many different protections we will win together.
Tell us: what other benefits should we work to provide?
In solidarity and grief,
The Independent Drivers Guild
The IDG works to give working drivers like you a voice. Not only do we work to give our members a voice by pushing for driver-friendly public policies and work to get you benefits you can’t get as an individual, but with the IDG, drivers have a cohesive voice to improve your working conditions with Uber management.
Help us push for a due process for unfair pay adjustments in the next Works Council.
Works Councils are one way drivers have a voice with Uber management by being a part of the Guild. At Works Council meetings, ten active IDG full members and stewards sit down with Uber management to discuss issues presented by the organizing committee that the membership has voted on.
We have had some success in these meetings, which you may find on our 2016 Year in Review.
In the last meeting, the membership voted to bring up three very important issues:
In the meeting, Uber agreed to negotiate with us on creating an earnings theft appeals process, they agreed to implement a wait timer, and they at least claimed that they would look into long haul fares. But so far, they’ve done nothing.
The organizing committee discussed what to do about Uber’s lack of movement. They decided to focus on the most popular and important issue drivers voted to bring to Uber: implementing a due process for earnings theft. Uber “customer service” shouldn’t have the unilateral right to take your money away without you having any say.
Some examples of theft may be:
Help us win a due process for earnings theft. Tell us why being able to appeal unfair pay adjustments is important to you by following this link.
Although we’re going to primarily focus on implementing a due process for earnings theft in the next meeting, we are still fighting for the other two items listed above, in addition to our ongoing work to secure a fair fare and a tipping option.
Independent Drivers Guild