News

March 14th Blizzard

Tomorrow and Wednesday, we strongly encourage all IDG members to stay inside, safe from the elements. The risk is not worth it.

There is a Blizzard Warning for New York City tomorrow from 12AM on 3/14 to 12AM on 3/15. The current forecast calls for 12-20″ of snow, winds of 25-35mph with gusts up to 55mph, and cold temperatures. Snowfall rates of 2-4″ per hour are possible which may result in whiteout conditions and visibility of less than a quarter mile. View the NYC Emergency Management press release here.

As the old labor motto goes, an injury to one is an injury to all.

Press Releases

Uber Drivers: “You Can’t Pay Rent With Stars”

Independent Drivers Guild Launches New Social Media Campaign in Tipping Push, Announces Union and City Council Support for Tipping Rule

New York, NY–Just days after Uber found itself embroiled in controversy for its CEO’s dismissive and disrespectful treatment of a driver who confronted him over pay cuts, Uber drivers are launching a new social media campaign to fight for a tipping option in the app. The Independent Drivers Guild (IDG), representing nearly 50,000 ride-hail drivers in New York City, unveiled the campaign as part of their push to require a tipping option for all ride-hail apps. The campaign videos, “Star ratings don’t pay the bills,” depict what would happen if other service industry professionals received stars instead of tips. The social media campaign will include digital advertising on social media platforms, search engines and other websites.

The Guild also announced broad support for its proposed rule to require an in-app tipping option in New York City, where taxis are already required to offer a tipping option on electronic payments screens. Supporters of the rule include labor unions, several members of the city council including the chair of the transportation committee, rideshare driver organizations, immigrant rights organizations and other community groups. Read the sign on letter here: http://drivingguild.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/TipSignOn.pdf

Supporter list:

Independent Drivers Guild
International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, AFL-CIO
District 15, International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, AFL-CIO
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
Pakistan News
SubContinent Peace Foundation
The Rideshare Guy
La cooperativa del taxista de NY
Transportation Alternatives

New York City Council Member Ydanis Rodriguez, Chairperson of the Committee on Transportation
New York City Council Member Corey Johnson
New York City Council Member Karen Koslowitz
New York City Council Member Rory Lancman
New York City Council Member Daneek Miller
New York City Council Member Debi Rose
New York City Council Member Mark Treyger

“The dismissive attitude toward drivers’ ability to make a living is nothing new. But this industry’s major profiteers can’t get away with ignoring the needs of drivers and their families anymore. Their disrespectful comments only feed our fight,” said IDG founder Jim Conigliaro, Jr. “We are fighting to increase driver earnings and tipping could put hundreds of millions of dollars in drivers pockets each year. Uber’s refusal to give passengers a tipping option has effectively slashed driver pay, making it all the more difficult for drivers and their families to get by in one of the most expensive cities in America.”

“Stars are not enough. Uber can and must do better,” said IDG member Ibraheem Ibraheem who drives for Uber and other apps. “One week of tips could cover meals or a month’s worth of car cleanings and it costs Uber next to nothing. It is a slap in the face to the drivers that the company refuses to make this simple update to the app that would increase our earnings substantially.”

Today’s announcement shows the Guild’s tipping campaign is gaining momentum. The IDG first launched the campaign 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).

In February, the Guild escalated the campaign by proposing a new regulation that would require an in-app tipping option for all app-based for hire vehicles in New York City. City regulators at the Taxi and Limousine Commission must decide on the rule by mid-April.

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).

The new videos were produced with Brooklyn-based Meerkat Media Collective.


For any media inquiries, please contact Moira Muntz at press@drivingguild.org

Updates

Benefits Survey

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:

Updates

Tipping TLC Petition—Frequently Asked Questions

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.

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.

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.

Updates

Make your voice count toward a tipping option

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:

CALL 844.335.3514

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.

Updates

MANDATE 👏 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.

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

In solidarity,

Independent Drivers Guild

PS, get instant text updates about this campaign (it’ll be handy) by texting TIPPING to 64336.

Press Releases

NEW: Drivers Call for NYC to Require Uber Tipping Option

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).


For any media inquiries, please contact Moira Muntz at press@drivingguild.org

Updates

One more win and benefit for our families

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

Updates

End Earnings Theft

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.

In solidarity,

Independent Drivers Guild

Updates

February Introductory Meeting

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.

Let us know if you’re coming on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/events/245571219212539/

The meeting will at 7pm on February 7th at:

Black Car Fund Safety Center

38-38 Crescent Street

Long Island City, NY 11101

If you are in need of special assistance please contact us.