New York, NY — New York State Assembly Member Robert Rodriguez and the Independent Drivers Guild (IDG) are calling for the state to launch a full investigation into ride-hail app Lyft’s billing and payment practices on interstate trips. In a letter to New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman and Executive Deputy Commissioner Nonie Manion of New York’s Department of Taxation and Finance, Assembly Member Robert Rodriguez requested the investigation, writing that, “Lyft appears to have engaged in a large-scale deception of the very drivers and customers it claims to benefit.”
New York State’s sales tax is only supposed to be charged to passengers for rides that begin and end in New York State. However, IDG members who drive for Lyft found that the company is improperly deducting this charge as well as the Black Car Fund surcharge (BCF) from their pay on interstate trips originating in New York City. When IDG members notified Lyft of the two wrongful charges, totaling 11.4% of the fare, company representatives claimed these were not taxes but two other administrative costs that happen to mimic the rates of the NYS sales tax (8.875% in New York City) and the BCF (2.5% for the injured workers’ compensation and safety fund). At least 16,000 IDG members drive for Lyft in a given week and the service completes about 60,000 New York City trips each day per the latest TLC data from March 2017.
“On behalf of the hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers affected by Lyft’s tax scam, I am calling for a full investigation into the company’s practices with regard to its billing of interstate trips,” said NYS Assembly Member Robert Rodriguez, who represents Assembly District 68, comprising East Harlem and Randalls and Wards Islands. “New York must act swiftly to stop this deceit and return these ill-gotten gains to drivers and consumers. When businesses add fake taxes to wages and services, they are not just cheating workers and consumers out of hard earned dollars, they are undermining the public trust. Lyft must be held accountable”
“This is an egregious and deliberate tax scam that amounts to wage theft affecting thousands of our members. By disguising these pay deductions as state taxes, Lyft willfully deceived drivers in order to rob them of their earnings and further enrich the company,” said Ryan Price, Executive Director of the IDG, a Machinists Union affiliate which represents and advocates for 50,000 ride hail drivers in New York City. “We urge riders and workers to sign our petition calling for new rules to protect New Yorkers from this exploitation once and for all, and call on Lyft to come to the table to negotiate with our members for basic rights and a dialogue with management.”
“We are calling on New York State to investigate the taxation and interstate billing practices of Lyft, Uber, Juno and other ride hail apps as well,” added Price. “From shady tax schemes to upfront pricing, Uber, Lyft and Juno all seem to be deploying underhanded accounting tactics that are robbing hard working drivers and riders of millions in hard earned wages. Assembly Member Rodriguez has been fighting for consumer protections to combat deceptive business practices for years and we are thankful to him for standing with New York’s drivers and consumers.”
In April, the Independent Drivers Guild called on New York City regulators to enact pay protections across the ride hail industry, including to protect driver pay from taxes and surcharges and to grant drivers the right to appeal when a company underpays or steals money from a worker for a completed service. The Guild’s petition for these rules has garnered more than 800 signers. IDG members sent the TLC over 1500 emails calling for these pay protections and 60 members attended an April TLC hearing to demand these protections.
Nine in ten New York City ride-hail drivers are immigrants and most IDG members report driving full time. The majority of our members report household incomes of less than $50,000 per year before expenses (gas, lease, insurance and licensing fees etc.) all while working to support their families in one of the most expensive areas of the country.
The New York State sales tax and BCF surcharge are listed as “surcharge” deductions from the driver’s pay on interstate trips — the exact same way they are listed on New York City to New York City trips:
The New York State sales tax and BCF surcharge are listed the exact same way on New York City to New York City trips:
The Guild is an IAMAW affiliate representing app-based drivers. We are Uber, Lyft, Via, Juno, Gett workers united for a fair for-hire vehicle industry.
When Ibraheem Ibraheem signed up to drive for Uber in 2014, it was as a side gig while he earned a computer science degree at New York City’s Brooklyn College. He never thought of himself as the kind of guy who, 18 months in, would be sitting across the room from Uber management, angrily telling them they were in “a race to the bottom to see who’s going to bleed out financially first.” It was June 2016, and six months earlier, the 33-year-old’s relatively easy side hustle had turned into something significantly more demanding when Uber cut fares in New York City by 15 percent. Frustrated drivers had protested outside of Uber’s offices and called for a strike on Super Bowl Sunday — but nothing had changed.
New Petition: Stop The Deception: Tell the TLC to Protect Drivers’ Pay
New York, NY — Today, the Independent Driver Guild (IDG) filed a formal complaint against Juno and Gett with the Federal Trade Commission for deliberately and egregiously misleading both current and prospective Juno drivers with false claims that drivers would share in Juno’s success through its “Restrictive Stock Units” (RSU) program. The IDG also requested a full investigation into when Juno first learned that its RSU program was potentially illegal. If the company failed to inform drivers and continued to lie to current and prospective drivers after learning the program might be illegal, that is a violation of Section 5 of the Federal Trade Commission Act which prohibits “unfair or deceptive acts or practices in or affecting commerce” including misrepresentations or deceptive omissions of material facts. Read the full complaint here: http://drivingguild.org/juno- ftc-letter-1/
The IDG also launched a petition today urging New York City’s Taxi and Limousine Commission to stop the exploitation of drivers once and for all by enacting industry-wide protections. Those protections include regulated minimum pay, protection against oversaturation of vehicles, and the right to appeal if a company underpays or fails to pay a driver for a completed service.
The IDG is an affiliate of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers and represents and advocates for 50,000 ride-hail drivers in New York City, including approximately 20,000 members who have driven for app-based for-hire vehicle company Juno. Juno recruited drivers with the promise of equity in the company only to sell the company to Gett without sharing proceeds with the drivers. The IDG found that Juno was contacted by the Securities and Exchange Commission about the RSU program several months before the company’s April sale and may have misled drivers for months until they could sell the company. IDG members who drive for Juno asked the IDG to step in to hold the company accountable.
“Juno misled drivers on both the company’s intention to share a stake with drivers and the value of the shares program. Working drivers played an indispensable role in building Juno and should share in the company’s success and sale proceeds as promised,” said Ryan Price, Executive Director of the Independent Drivers Guild. “The Federal Trade Commission held Uber accountable for their lies about driver pay and now we are seeking their help in holding Juno accountable as well.”
“Juno’s shameful deception of drivers is just the latest in a long history of broken promises and shady tactics in this industry. Year after year, companies like Uber, Lyft, Juno and Gett become more valuable on the backs of hard-working New Yorkers who lack the basic protection of a minimum wage. Drivers need industry-wide protections to stop the exploitation once and for all,” said IDG founder Jim Conigliaro Jr. “Drivers keep our city moving and we are asking customers and drivers alike to sign on to our petition for basic protections in an industry that has run amok.”
Many for hire vehicle drivers have no access to traditional worker protections like retirement plans, group health insurance, or even paid time off. Nine in ten New York City ride-hail drivers are immigrants and most IDG members drive full time. The majority of our members report household incomes of less than $50,000 per year before expenses (gas, lease, insurance and licensing fees etc.) all while working to support their families in one of the most expensive areas of the country. Learn more here: http://drivingguild.org/wp-co ntent/uploads/2017/04/IDG-flye r-2.pdf
The Guild is an IAMAW affiliate representing app-based drivers. We are Uber, Lyft, Via, Juno, Gett workers united for a fair for-hire vehicle industry.
SAN FRANCISCO — New York City could force Uber and other ride-hailing services to add a tipping option to their apps as soon as this fall, potentially resolving a bitter point of contention among drivers and opening the door to nationwide changes.
The New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission on Monday granted a petition by the city’s Independent Drivers Guild to create a rule that would require ride-hailing services to add in-app tipping.
New York, NY –Today, New York City’s Taxi and Limousine Commission (TLC) sided with drivers in their push to require ride-hail apps to offer an in-app tipping option as a first step to protect working drivers in an industry known for misleading drivers about earnings and deploying invasive and exploitative tactics. The TLC granted the petition from the Independent Drivers Guild to create a rule that would force Uber, the app with the largest market share in the city, to conform to industry standards. The Guild estimates the rule will mean an additional $300 million per year for New York City drivers.
“Today’s decision is a vitally important step forward for drivers. In-app tipping will mean a raise of hundreds of millions of dollars for New York City drivers each year. Drivers have long been denied access to the kinds of benefits and labor protections many workers take for granted, such as paid sick leave or the minimum wage. As a result, New York City’s professional drivers have traditionally depended on gratuities for a substantial portion of their income. Cuts to driver pay across the ride-hail industry has made tipping income more important than ever,” said IDG founder Jim Conigliaro, Jr. “The exploitation of ride-hail drivers must end and this is an important first step. We thank Chairman Joshi and the commission for holding Uber to the same standard as the rest of the industry on tipping and look forward to working together on further reforms to protect our city’s working drivers. We also thank the many city leaders, labor unions and community organizations that stood with drivers and advocated for this critical measure.”
More than a dozen City Council members joined with city leaders, labor unions and community organizations in backing the Guild’s proposed rule and more than 11,000 supporters signed IDG’s tipping option petition. Guild members called the TLC more than 800 times and sent the TLC nearly 1800 emails advocating for the tipping rule. At a TLC hearing on April 6, 55 members of the Independent Drivers Guild testified and demanded action from the TLC to approve the tipping rule and protect drivers’ wages from the exploitative practices of ride-hail companies.
“Today’s victory is more proof that thousands of drivers coming together with one voice can make big changes,” said Uber driver and IDG member Jose Molina. “Tips will bring immediate relief to families like mine, but it’s not just about drivers. Allowing tipping on the app will make tipping much easier for passengers and it will give drivers more incentive to go above and beyond in providing top notch service.”
“When Uber came to town several years ago making big promises about higher earnings and more freedom, I left my job as a dispatch manager to drive for Uber. They led riders and drivers alike to believe that the fares would cover the gratuities that always made up a big part of driver pay, but that’s not what happened. In the years that followed, pay cuts stacked up and I found myself having to work longer hours away from my family to make the same money I did when I started. Allowing drivers to earn tips is an important step to help drivers increase their earning potential,” said IDG member and Uber driver Luiny Tavares.
Other Guild initiatives have led to changes in the Uber app not just for New York City but beyond, such as the destination filter or “take me home” option which the Guild asked for and Uber implemented in most major markets allowing drivers to pick up fares heading their way at the end of a shift. So other cities have been watching the tipping campaign closely, with CA advocates recently proposing a bill to require a tipping option.
The Guild’s tipping push 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 which gives drivers a direct line of communication to company management.
When the company refused to budge, the Guild launched the tipping campaign including an online petition and social media advertisements as well as the distribution of flyers, bar napkins, and stickers that say “tips for service are appreciated”. The campaign has had 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).
With no movement from Uber, the Guild escalated the campaign in February by proposing the tipping option rule and launching a social media campaign, “Star ratings don’t pay the bills,” which depicts what would happen if other service industry professionals received stars instead of tips. The social media campaign included digital advertising on social media platforms, search engines and other websites.
To be clear, this is not the final solution to enable drivers to make a living wage in New York City.The tipping campaign is one part of the Guild’s comprehensive effort to increase drivers’ earnings, reduce expenses and create protections. The Guild presented the TLC with a comprehensive set of actions that can be taken to protect ride-hail drivers and consumers.
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. The Guild also negotiated discounts for drivers on insurance and other expenses drivers face, such as legal assistance fighting unfair tickets. Ongoing, the Guild is exploring options for further benefits as well as pushing to improve restroom access for ride-hail drivers.
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.
Drivers can support the Independent Drivers Guild in our work to win a more fair for-hire vehicle industry by joining as a full member.
“Lyft claims to be the “woke” alternative but then why are their executives off working for Trump while they cut driver pay in a race to the bottom with Uber? Lyft has refused driver council meetings that have led to favorable changes to dispatch procedures for Uber drivers and they still don’t have a process for drivers to appeal if they are kicked off the app. While their tipping policy is great, Lyft engages in the same kind of manipulation as Uber and still has a lot of work to do with drivers.” – Ryan Price, Executive Director of the Independent Drivers Guild which represents and advocates for 50,000 NYC ride-hail drivers.
Stringer, James, Rodriguez, City Council leaders and Labor Unions Back Tipping Rule
Scores of Ride-Hail Drivers Demand Action from TLC at Hearing
New York, NY — The Independent Drivers Guild is calling on Mayor Bill de Blasio to come forward and support a rule to require ride-hail apps operating in the city to offer an in-app tipping option. The Independent Drivers Guild (IDG) is an affiliate of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers which represents and advocates for 50,000 ride-hail drivers in New York City. If approved, the in-app tipping rule could mean a raise of $300 million per year for New York City’s Uber drivers.
The Guild’s proposed tipping rule has gained the support of city leaders including Comptroller Scott M. Stringer, Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr., several members of the city council including Chairperson of the Committee on Transportation Ydanis Rodriguez, labor unions including the Central Labor Council and the State AFL-CIO, ride-hailing driver organizations, immigrant rights organizations, transportation safety advocates, and other community groups. More than 10,000 supporters have signed the Guild’s online petition calling for in-app tipping.
(See growing supporter list below.)
The city’s Taxi and Limousine Commission (TLC) already requires taxis to offer a tipping option on electronic payments screens. While some ride-hail apps offer a tipping option (like Lyft), Uber does not. As the app with the largest share of the market, Uber’s refusal to allow in-app tipping costs drivers hundreds of millions in earnings per year.
“It’s time to hold Uber to the same standard as the rest of the industry and require a tipping option,” said IDG founder Jim Conigliaro, Jr. “We are thrilled to have the support of so many labor unions and city leaders. It’s time for Mayor de Blasio to choose a side: either he stands with Uber or he stands with working drivers. He can’t have it both ways.”
The Guild’s tipping push first launched last summer and escalated with the proposed rule and a social media campaign, “Star ratings don’t pay the bills,” which depicts what would happen if other service industry professionals received stars instead of tips. The social media campaign includes digital advertising on social media platforms, search engines and other websites.
“Tips are drivers’ bread and butter, accounting for as much as a quarter of their earnings. Uber and Lyft are in a race to the bottom, slashing driver pay. Drivers and their families need tips more than ever to get by in one of the most expensive cities in America,” added Conigliaro.
At a TLC hearing today, more than 50 members of the Independent Drivers Guild demanded action from the TLC to approve the tipping rule and protect drivers’ wages from the exploitativepractices of ride-hail companies.
“The culture of exploiting and manipulating drivers is pervasive throughout the ride-hail industry,” said Ryan Price, Executive Director of the Independent Drivers Guild. “We need the TLC to help us protect this precarious workforce, along with protecting the public, rather than watching idly with their hands tied behind their back.”
Working Drivers By the Numbers:
91% of IDG members are US immigrants from more than 59 countries.
57% of IDG survey respondents reported their households make less than $50,000/year.
22% of IDG survey respondents reported their households make less than $30,000/year.
78% of IDG survey respondents drive full time (at least 30 hours per week).
56% of IDG survey respondents indicated they care for a dependent under the age of 18.
Tipping Rule Supporters Include:
Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr.
Comptroller Scott M. Stringer
Public Advocate Leticia James
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
Council Member Rafael Espinal
Council Member Robert Cornegy
Council Member Julissa Ferreras-Copeland
Council Member Alan Maisel
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
SubContinent Peace Foundation
The Rideshare Guy
La cooperativa del taxista de NY
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.