Tomorrow, the TLC is meeting to hear testimony on an unfair and impractical Wheelchair Accessible Vehicle (WAV) rule. While we support wheelchair accessibility, and we know our fellow workers support getting more Wheelchair Accessible Vehicles on the road, we cannot support a rule so severe, and on such an unrealistic timeline that it will endanger the public by drastically cutting our income.
Tomorrow’s hearing isn’t one New York’s 100,000 FHV workers can afford to ignore.
Already, we’re struggling to make a living while balancing vehicle maintenance, out-of-pocket medical care, and wages that seem to drop every time Uber and Lyft feel like tweaking their algorithms. Now, we’re staring down the barrel of a new Wheelchair Accessibility rule that will decimate our ability to make a living.
We have been trying to make contact with the advocates for people with disabilities to get them to meet with For-Hire Vehicle workers so we can work hand in hand to create a fair rule, but we’re having difficulty getting them to listen, which is why we have to mobilize.
Quick facts about this rule:
This rule would require that for-hire vehicle bases like Uber, Lyft, Via, and Juno dispatch non-black car vehicles to meet the WAV requirements. So, starting January 2018, 10% of all trips that would normally be dispatched to vehicles like yours would be dispatched to current wheelchair accessible vehicles instead, and 25% of all trips by 2020.
The current supply of accessible vehicles is not nearly enough to cover 10 percent of all trips, most drivers cannot switch to WAV, and there aren’t even enough accessible vehicles in the vicinity to purchase if workers could afford it.
This rule would slash the business and earnings of New York’s 100,000 FHV drivers deeply and force most mom-and-pop bases to shut down entirely.
FHV workers and the Guild were not consulted on this rule before its proposal despite enormous impacts.
The TLC is requiring FHV drivers to do in a few months what took the taxi industry more than a decade to accomplish. All without the 70 million dollars in funding provided to taxi garages through the Taxi Improvement Fund.
This rule would make it more difficult to survive by owning and operating your own car, and would likely make leasing more expensive, without any dedication to an increase in pay.
This rule would allow Uber, Lyft, and the other big bases to push all of the costs of converting to Wheelchair Accessible Vehicles onto the workers.
We support getting more WAVs on the road, and people in wheelchairs need a better service. But getting more WAVs on the road by cutting the income of 100,000 workers in half is unacceptable. Tell the TLC you oppose this rule. If you have contacts with any advocates for people with disabilities, please tell them we want to work together to build a future that works for people in wheelchairs and hard working drivers alike.
For the past year, IDG members like yourself have been fighting for a tipping option. Here is the timeline of our campaign:
May 2016 IDG launched as a Machinists Union affiliate representing and advocating for app-based drivers.
June 2016 Guild surveyed drivers on priorities and drivers selected tipping as top issue to bring to the first Uber works council meeting, but the company resisted.
July 2016 Guild launched a public campaign to pressure the company (online petition over 11,000 signatures, flyers, bar napkins, social media ads, stickers in cars).
July 2016 Guild first gave public comment to TLC in support of pay regulations.
February 2017 Uber still refused to budge on tipping, so IDG petitioned the TLC for tipping option rule and called for broader pay protection.
Feb-April 2017 Guild intensified the advocacy campaign driving 800 calls and thousands of emails to TLC; won the support of elected officials including a sign on letter with elected officials and community organizations. Finally, we produced twovideos comparing the lack of a tipping option to other industries. Those videos were viewed by over 50,000 people.
April 2017 TLC hearing – IDG members made a case for tipping and pay protection regulation (60 drivers attended to address TLC and flyer the event).
April 2017 VICTORY TLC responded that it sides with IDG in favor of tipping rule and also agreed broader pay regulation should be taken up.
May 30, 2017 TLC officially proposed rule language requiring tipping option.
June 6, 2017 NYC City Council Member Ydanis Rodriguez introduced legislation to require in-app tipping option with hearing scheduled for June 22.
June 15, 2017 Along with Long Haul Fares and a raise, workers voted for the tipping option to be a top-three issue for the June Works Council meeting.
June 20, 2017 Uber announced it would enable in-app tipping nationwide by the end of July.
June 21, 2017 Works Council meeting. Guild members told Uber $1, $2, $5 option is unacceptable.
June 22, 2017 IDG testified at New York City Council hearing on tipping legislation.
July 6, 2017 Uber added tipping option in NYC.
The campaign isn’t over yet. We still want to win the taxi-style rules where the tipping options have to be 20%, 25%, 30% or “other.” Join us on Sunday to get organized for the TLC hearing about the tipping rule on July 13th.
The new JFK bathrooms are a result of a coordinated push that included working closely with Port Authority, in conjunction with an all out media and grassroots effort. This victory came after months of stalling and navigating a difficult bureaucratic process, but a few weeks ago we decided we were tired of waiting.
We sent out press releases, text messages, and emails asking members to call the port authority to demand the basic dignity of a place to use the bathroom.
To be clear, porta potties are only a temporary solution. We demand bathrooms with running water and shade. We are also pushing to get more FHV stands in Manhattan to prevent tickets for stopping at taxi stands. If you want to take action, here’s what you do. After we get the final locations accepted by the Department of Transportation, we’re going to push for public bathrooms.
We deserve to drive with dignity. Join us as a dues-paying member at http://IDG.ms/JOIN to keep the wins coming.
Cost is a barrier and as a result, we’re redoubling our efforts to win pay regulations and New York Council’s Intro 1301. These measures will put more money in your pocket and help ease the cost of healthcare. Throughout the summer, we’ll be asking members to fill out this survey to evaluate interest in healthcare and collect the necessary data to push forward the argument for pay regulations.
We work to bring working drivers together to build power. One of our early wins was forcing Uber to give workers a direct line to Uber management to discuss the collective issues that are important to IDG members like you. We call the group of workers that meet with Uber the “Works Council.”
Tipping: Add the tipping option to the app before the TLC mandates it. Put an added feature after the ride to give, 20%, 25%, 30% or other—and riders should be able to choose a flat tip (like 25%) across all rides so they don’t have to choose.
Mile/Minute/Base pay rates must be increased.
Long Haul Fare: Fare should double when leaving NYC.
UberPOOL: workers should be able to opt-out, POOL rating shouldn’t go against general rating, pickups are often on the bus lane side of the street.
Seniority bonus: Give the drivers a $1,000 bonus for every 1,000 rides and give drivers a bonus on rides already completed in the past when you institute this policy.
Destination Filter: Increase the number of destination trips we can do in a day, count destination trips towards promotions.
These issues were chosen openly and with the steward council over the last few weeks. The survey closes Sunday, June 18 at 9AM. Only New York City TLC licensed drivers’ votes will count.
Mandate our proposed tipping option. It’s the easiest way to get millions of dollars back to the hands of our members.
End the race to the bottom and regulate pay. We propose a minimum mile and minute pay that is protected from sales taxes, surcharges, and commissions. That pay should be enough so you can make at least $250 in an eight hour work day.
Limit the number of TLC licenses to end oversaturation. New licensees can be added seasonally if the number of trips increases.
Protect UberBLACK/Luxury drivers as a class of their own since they experience the most significant financial burden.
Mandate a right to appeal if a company undercharges or would like to take money away from a driver. The Taxi and Limousine Commission should also be required to audit a company’s records every time they receive a complaint from a driver about underpayment.
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:
Develop goals and workplans for self and the instructor team with Executive Director to best serve membership;
Startup the education programming by finding appropriate space, instructors, negotiate contracts, navigate regulations, and start classes in necessary locales to meet the needs of our membership;
This position includes working closely with the Executive Director in the coordination of and adherence to contract obligations and relationships with other industry groups to assure successful implementation of projects against program goals and objectives;
Find new partners and class space to best serve the geographic and marketing needs of membership;
Ensure the financial sustainability of education programs that encourage the growth of dues-paying membership;
Coordinate with members, instructors and other groups to continually develop and improve curriculum to meet the needs of people with varying English abilities and cultural backgrounds;
Lead and design human-centered learning activities to English Language Learner professional drivers;
Minimally twice a month, lead professional development by teaching sample lessons to membership for instructors to observe and critique;
Work with Executive Director, IAMAW, Taxi and Limousine Commission, Consortium for Workers Education, and others to develop programs to best serve membership;
Build a relationship with the Taxi and Limousine Commission and other industry institutions to ensure compliance with rules and laws and funding sources;
Give performance feedback to team members;
Quickly scrap programs that don’t work and invest in programs that do;
Collaborate with other Funds and organizations to facilitate quality programs.
Keep the communications team, member-leaders, and organizers up-to-date on classes we are providing, and using those teams to grow the education program;
Delegate to others to market classes to membership using available resources.
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.
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.
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: