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.
NYC Requires Taxis to Offer Tipping Option, Proposed Rule Would Force Uber to Comply
New York, NY — Today, the Independent Drivers Guild is petitioning the Taxi and Limousine Commission to adopt a proposed rule that would require Uber to offer passengers the option to tip their drivers in the app. Currently, all other major ridesharing companies and all New York City taxis offer tipping options in their apps or display screens. Uber’s refusal to allow in-app tipping has caused passenger confusion and resulted in drastic reductions in tipping income, which has long made up a substantial portion of driver earnings.
The Guild, which represents and advocates for New York City’s nearly 50,000 Uber drivers, submitted the proposed rule to the city’s Taxi and Limousine Commission (TLC), the agency responsible for licensing and regulating New York City’s taxis and for-hire vehicles. The TLC is required to respond to rule petitions within sixty days with either proposed rule language or a denial of the request. Already, the TLC requires taxi display screens to offer passengers a button to tip 20 percent and the option to manually select any tip amount. However, the agency has yet to hold the burgeoning app-based industry to the same standard.
“Tips are drivers’ bread and butter, and traditionally account for as much as a quarter of their earnings. Uber’s refusal to give passengers a tipping option has effectively slashed driver pay, making it all the more difficult for drivers to support their families in one of the most expensive cities in America,” said Jim Conigliaro, Jr, founder of the Independent Drivers Guild. “Uber has a reputation for skirting rules and industry standards, but depriving drivers of the opportunity to earn tips is bad business. The fact that they are denying drivers the ability to earn tips at the same time as the company has cut pay and nearly tripled their take of driver pay is beyond the pale. It’s time to hold Uber to the same standard as taxis and the rest of the service industry and require a tipping option.”
The Guild will also be organizing a member-led campaign to call the TLC urging adoption of the in-app tipping rule as well as distribute flyers and stickers calling attention to the issue.
Today’s petition to the TLC is an escalation of the tipping campaign that the Guild first launched last summer after tipping was named the top issue of concern in an early survey of its membership. Drivers with the Guild brought the issue to Uber management in June 2016, at the first of their regular “works council” meetings negotiated by the Guild and IAMAW District 15 which gives drivers a direct line of communication to company management.
When the company refused to budge, the Guild launched the campaign including an online petition and social media advertisements as well as the distribution of flyers, bar napkins, and stickers. The campaign has two goals: pressure Uber to add the tipping option and let passengers know tips are permitted and appreciated. Uber’s refusal to allow in-app tipping has caused rampant passenger confusion over whether tipping is permitted (it is) and whether gratuity is already included in the fare (it is not).
The tipping campaign is one part of the Guild’s comprehensive effort to increase drivers’ earnings, reduce expenses and create protections. When app-based ridesharing companies came on the scene, they offered enticing incentives and bonuses to woo drivers away from driving for traditional black car companies or taxi cabs. However, once these app-based companies dominated the market they doubled and now nearly tripled their cut of driver pay.
Since the launch of the Independent Drivers Guild in May, the Guild has won important victories for drivers. New York City’s Uber drivers are the only organized drivers in the world to meet with Uber management regularly to advocate for changes and they have the best job protection of any Uber drivers in the world as well, with the unique appeals process they negotiated to fight unfair deactivations. Drivers won a $1 increase to the minimum rate, the right for drivers of luxury vehicles to opt out of the lower cost UberPOOL and UberX fares, and the creation of a destination filter in the app, which allows drivers to be matched up with passengers heading toward the driver’s destination at the end of a shift (an enhancement that drivers across the country now enjoy). The Guild also negotiated discounts for drivers on insurance and other expenses drivers face, such as legal assistance fighting unfair tickets, mobile phone plans, and tax preparation services.
Most recently, the Guild won a death benefit through the Black Car Fund for the families of drivers killed on the job and successfully called on Uber CEO Travis Kalanick to step down from President Trump’s business advisory council in protest of his muslim immigration and travel ban. Nine in ten New York City drivers are immigrants and many expressed concerns about the ban, so the Guild launched a survey Monday January 30th asking drivers about the ban and if Kalanick should step down. The results were clear with a majority calling for Kalanick to quit the council and 90% of drivers noting that they knew someone affected by the ban. By Thursday night, on the eve of the council’s first meeting with Trump, Kalanick resigned from the group.
Drivers who wish to learn more about the IDG can visit DrivingGuild.org or text DRIVE to 64336 to learn more (msg and data rates may apply).
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.
After Uber Drivers Call On Him To Do So In Protest of the Immigration Ban
This is an important show of solidarity with the immigrant drivers who helped build Uber and number over 40,000 in New York City alone. We are heartened that Uber has listened to the drivers and the community on this important issue that is so integral to the promise of the American dream.
Jim Conigliaro Jr. is the founder of the Independent Drivers Guild and serves as general counsel and a director of the International Association of Machinists District 15. The Guild represents and advocates for the more than 45,000 Uber drivers in New York City.
Uber Drivers Call on CEO to Quit Trump Council, Support Refugees & Workers
New York, NY — On behalf of New York City’s nearly 50,000 drivers, the Independent Drivers Guild says “Uber Can Do Better” and is launching a petition calling on Uber’s CEO Travis Kalanick to immediately step down from President Trump’s advisory council in protest over his immigration and muslim travel ban. The petition also calls on Uber to contribute to non-profit organizations fighting the ban and supporting refugees; to state publicly that drivers will not be penalized for acting in protest of the immigration ban; and to support Uber’s immigrant worker drivers by offering the option of in-app tipping.
“There would be no Uber without immigrants. Nine in ten Uber drivers in New York City are immigrants. We are a city of immigrants in a nation of immigrants. As a company whose success is built on a foundation of hard work by immigrant workers, Uber can and should do better to stand up for immigrants and their workers,” said IDG founder Jim Conigliaro, Jr. “As a show of solidarity with the thousands of immigrants who helped build this company, we are calling on Uber’s CEO Travis Kalanick to immediately step down from President Trump’s advisory council in protest of his immigration and muslim travel ban.”
The Guild surveyed drivers and a majority of drivers oppose the ban and believe Kalanick should step down from Trump’s advisory council. Drivers also called on Uber to state publicly that drivers would not be penalized for acting in protest of the immigration ban (such as rejecting pick ups at international airports). What’s more, nearly 90 percent of drivers said the ban will directly affect them, a friend, or family member.
One such driver is Ibrahim Ali, who came to the United States from Sudan.
“I came to this country as a refugee to make a better life for myself and my family. My parents are back home in Sudan and I support them with my earnings from driving, ” said Brooklyn-based driver Ibrahim Ali. “The ban means I cannot visit my parents and they cannot travel to the United States to see us or to receive advanced medical care. For families like mine, every dollar goes towards either my brother’s education here in the US or to support my family abroad.”
“Nine in ten of us are immigrants and many of us are sending money back to our families and trying to bring family over out of horrible conditions. That’s why it’s a bit more complicated than ‘delete Uber’,” said Ibraheem Ibraheem of Brooklyn, NY. “Uber must do better, but at least they meet with us when no one else will. Lyft just cut driver pay, they refuse to meet with us and their investor is a big Trump donor and advisor, so they are not better. Neither is the taxi industry.”
“If Mr. Kalanick truly wishes to stand up for immigrants and refugees, he must quit President Trump’s council and put his money where his mouth is by supporting refugees and making it easier for his thousands of immigrant drivers to earn a fair living,” added Ibraheem. “This ban is devastating families who only want means to survive, an opportunity for a better life. Two of my cousins in Sudan are affected by the ban. One of my cousins is a green card holder and U.S. resident who went to visit his family and I do not know if he will be able to return. Another cousin was lucky to be among those selected for the diversity visa lottery program, so the next step for him would be an interview at the US embassy in Sudan and we’re not sure if he will get that interview and be able to leave Sudan.”
Anger at Uber has been building over time. It is not just the company’s actions of the last week that led to the current backlash. That’s why it is also critical that Uber show its commitment to workers by giving them their number one request: an option for tipping in the app. Taxis have it, other ridesharing apps have it, it is long past time that Uber include it.
Tipping provides a significant source of income for drivers, but Uber’s refusal to allow in-app tipping has drastically reduced tipping and has led to customer confusion. The Guild launched a tipping campaign last year as its first major initiative after forming in May, including an online petition, “tips for service are appreciated” stickers, social media advertising, and distribution of flyers and bar napkins.
For any media inquiries, please contact Moira Muntz at firstname.lastname@example.org
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.