Why would we be fighting for a tipping option instead of a pay increase?
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.”
What does the petition to the Taxi and Limousine Commission (TLC) do, and how is it different from the online petition I signed?
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.
I’m not thrilled with [this app or that app’s] tipping option, will this only affect Uber, or the other apps as well?
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.
Does the TLC have the authority to implement a tipping option?
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.”
I like getting cash tips. Wouldn’t this just make it so the government can take a part of my tips?
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.
Also, you should be reporting your cash tips anyways.
Wouldn’t this rule reduce drivers’ pay because they would be considered tipped labor?
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.
Why is Uber against a tipping option?
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.
Isn’t tipping option incompatible with Uber’s model?
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.
Will tips really make a big difference in my income as a driver?
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
In the last meeting, the membership voted to bring up three very important issues:
End Earnings Theft
Compensation for Long Haul Fares
Wait Timer on the X and Black trips
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:
The company takes your pay after you already completed a fare – blaming it on a passenger complaint;
A driver is underpaid because the company’s app thinks you went from point A to point B as a crow flies;
Company overcharges the Sales Tax, Black Car Fund, or their commission out of driver’s pay;
Company doesn’t pay for a trip without explanation;
Use of fraudulent credit cards by customers and drivers are left unpaid;
Any case-by-case event where a “customer service” company representative would unilaterally decide if the money a driver earned should be taken away.
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.
If you’re an Uber or app-based working driver and new to the Independent Drivers Guild, come to an introductory meeting to discuss the Guild, what benefits we have available to drivers, and why working drivers like you must get involved and stay united to win a fair fare and better working conditions for all.
We’re launching a campaign to tell CEO Travis Kalanick to resign from President Trump’s advisory council immediately.
That’s a good start, but it’s not enough. Uber needs to make a good faith effort to stand with immigrant workers. That’s why we’re also calling on Uber to:
State publicly that drivers will not be penalized for acting in protest of the immigration ban
Immediately institute in-app tipping to support immigrant workers in NYC
Make a substantial donation in support of the work of non-profit organizations fighting the immigration ban.
90% of IDG members say that this ban will affect them or their friends and families directly. As a company that was built with the power of immigrant drivers, Uber has to do much better to support their immigrant workers.
If enough IDG members take action, we can hold Uber accountable to their immigrant workers and take a strong stand against anti-immigrant laws and policies.
President Trump issued an executive order prohibiting citizens of seven majority Muslim countries from entering the U.S. for 90 days. We should expect more anti-immigrant policies from the Trump administration.
Also, Uber CEO Travis Kalanick has agreed to serve on President Trump’s business advisory council, doubling down on Uber’s intention to participate even after the ban was announced.
Since this post was published, the TLC has passed the proposed rules:
On Thursday, February 2nd, the Taxi and Limousine Commission passed revised fatigued driving prevention rules. Under the new rules, TLC will only count the time when a driver has a passenger in the vehicle. Drivers will be limited to 10 hours of passenger time in each 24-hour period and 60 hours of passenger time each week.
The earliest that TLC will issue summonses under these rules is August 15, 2017. Our goal is to reduce risky driving behavior. Before any summonses are issued, we will provide an extensive education and outreach campaign to drivers on the risks of fatigued driving and how to stay within the daily and weekly limits.
This is a message from the IDG organizing committee (a committee of member-activists that are drivers) to fellow For-Hire Vehicle drivers in NYC.
Tomorrow, January 5th, the Taxi and Limousine Commission (TLC) is having a public hearing on a changed version of the fatigued driving rule. Our position on the rule in June (when the rule was first proposed) was that the TLC should work toward pay protections for working drivers like you, before regulating the time you can spend on the road. You may find our letter to the TLC here.
Since then, the TLC has moved forward on surveying drivers to collect accurate data on how much drivers are actually making after expenses. They have also changed the proposed fatigued driving rules to try to make them much more friendly to drivers.
The TLC even came to the December driver’s committee meeting to try to understand your perspective and answer our questions and concerns.
The Independent Drivers Guild does not have a position on this new rendition of the rule. We did poll members that attended meeting with the TLC, and those members were slightly in favor of the rule. While there is not enough consensus for the IDG to take a formal position, we did have the opportunity to understand the rule much more clearly. We hope this helps with the confusion and misinformation about this rule.
This is what we know about the proposed fatigued driving rules and what we discussed:
THE TIME CHANGED
The way the TLC is counting the hours has changed. The TLC is looking to encourage bases and drivers to not spend more than ten hours with a passenger. To be clear: Only the time spent while you are WITH A PASSENGER IN YOUR CAR counts toward the rule. Time spent waiting or driving around WITHOUT a passenger WILL NOT count toward the ten hours.
As an example: A few nights ago, a committee member, Rudy, spent 10 hours active on the app, but only had 5 hours and 12 minutes with riders in the car. Only five hours would be counted toward the rule in that case.
WHY DOES THE TLC WANT TRIP DATA?
The more relevant question is: Why is Uber so afraid of the TLC getting this data?
The proposed driver fatigue rules include the collection of For-Hire Vehicle (FHV) drop-off information (location and date/time) in addition to the pick-up information that bases are already giving to the TLC. Any trip data TLC provides to the public does not contain any driver or vehicle license numbers, and trip location information would provide neighborhoods, not specific addresses. As reported by Vice News, it looks like this:
TLC getting drop-off location is the only way to ensure the data TLC receives from bases is accurate, keeping bases accountable to their drivers. This information is the only way the TLC can ensure that only a driver’s time with passengers is counted, and the data will help TLC investigate fare disputes between drivers, passengers, and companies.
You may find all the details of the fatigued driving rules here. And although the Guild is not taking a formal position, you are encouraged to voice yours.
The TLC is holding a public hearing on the proposed rule at 10am on January 5, 2017. The hearing will be in the hearing room at 33 Beaver Street — 19th Floor, New York, NY 10004. Anyone may comment on the proposed rules by:
• Mail. You can mail written comments to the Taxi and Limousine Commission, Office of Legal Affairs, 33 Beaver Street — 22nd Floor, New York, New York 10004.
• Fax. You can fax written comments to the Taxi and Limousine Commission, Office of Legal Affairs, at 212–676–1102.
• Email. You can email written comments to email@example.com.
• Website. You can submit comments to the Taxi and Limousine Commission through the NYC rules Web site at www.nyc.gov/nycrules.
• By Speaking at the Hearing. Anyone who wants to comment on the proposed rule at the public hearing must sign up to speak. You can sign up before the hearing by calling 212–676–1135 You can also sign up in the hearing room before the hearing begins. You can speak for up to three minutes.
At the start of 2016, New York City’s For-Hire Vehicle drivers were desperate. Like Uber drivers across the country and around the world, they have been facing dwindling income and had no voice to seek changes and win fair workplace policies. Thanks to thousands of you joining together, New York’s Uber drivers made big strides in 2016.
While there are still challenges ahead, if we continue to band together we can make 2017 the best year yet. But first, let’s take a moment to reflect on all you accomplished in 2016.
The IDG won NYC working drivers the right to Works Council meetings. As a result, we are the only drivers in the world to meet with Uber management regularly to advocate for changes.
The best job protection of any Uber drivers in the world with our unique appeals process to fight unfair deactivations, overseen by the unbiased American Arbitration Association, a peer panel, and expert representation from the Guild/Machinists Union. About two dozen drivers are now back on the road after being unfairly deactivated. You may find the deactivation appeal application here: https://drivingguild.org/uberdeactivated/
In one of the first Works Council meetings, IDG members overwhelmingly called for a “take me home” option where drivers could choose their destination. A few months later, Uber responded by implementing the destination filter.
New leadership of Uber’s driver customer service—and the promise to completely upgrade the customer service system. Uber has been testing live phone service with about 1,000 drivers, hopefully to expand it to all drivers soon.
Starting January 4th, all luxury drivers will be able to opt out of UberPOOL and UberX rides. So all UberBLACK/SUV drivers will have the “+” option, no matter when you started with the service.
A $1 raise to the minimum rate (not as much as we’d like, but it’s something) and an important statement from the General Manager of Uber NY at our November meeting: “Don’t expect to see anymore price cuts”.
Successfully pressured Uber to crackdown on illegal practices that put legitimate, law-abiding drivers at a disadvantage like illegal airport pick ups and making it harder to spoof your location.
Worked with the TLC to get real, unbiased data on expenses and earnings for For-Hire Vehicle drivers.
Worked with the TLC to get any rule on fatigue to protect drivers that need to pay their bills if they’re driving safely.
Provided discount legal services for NYPD tickets and TLC summons.
Helped several drivers win workers compensation payouts from the Black Car Fund and win back pay from Uber in cases of earnings theft.
Created driver led committees, online communities and a Women Drivers’ Caucus-to build community and discuss the changes that need to happen on the road.
In 2017, we will take on new fights and continue our ongoing work, including:
Our campaign to pressure Uber to add an in-app tipping option (taxis and other ride sharing companies have it, Uber drivers need this important source of income).
Advocating for a bathroom at JFK airport and more restrooms throughout the city
Urging the city and state to pass driver protections, from the city bill to win health insurance for drivers to correcting the unfair state sales tax on black car rides (while taxi and livery are exempt).
Finally, we will also always stand in solidarity with our Muslim and immigrant brothers and sisters. More than 90% of our membership is an immigrant. We don’t know what policies will come from the white house in the next four years, but we will do everything within our power to ensure you and your families are safe.
On behalf of New York’s 45,000 drivers, thank you for all of your hard work this year to win a better life for drivers. You should be proud of all you have accomplished in these past six months. Join the Guild as a Full Member and continue to bring your energy and ideas so we can achieve even more in 2017.