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.
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.
Statement from the founder of the Independent Drivers Guild, Jim Conigliaro, Jr. on today’s FTCannouncement of a $20 million Uber driver refund:
The reality of being a ridesharing driver is a far cry from the rosy picture these apps describe and it is encouraging to see the FTC take them to task and refund drivers. Companies like Uber shift cost, risk, and burden onto drivers and taxpayers when they fail to provide the basic benefits so many Americans take for granted, from health insurance to sick leave. On top of that, drivers are stuck with the bill for their vehicle, gas, repairs, maintenance, insurance, the list goes on. Drivers deserve the fair pay they were promised, tips like other workers in the service economy, and unbiased data on the earnings and expenses of ridesharing. It’s time for Uber to ease this burden on drivers. It’s time to give working drivers a raise.
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.
For any media inquiries, please contact Moira Muntz at email@example.com
There also is an Independent Drivers Guild affiliated with the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers that Uber recognized in 2016, making it the first such group of drivers to be recognized by the company. The guild has already scored a $1 raise on the minimum Uber fare rate, and is pressing for Uber to add a tipping option in 2017.
“Having that voice with the company is crucial,” said Independent Drivers Guild spokeswoman Moira Muntz.
She believes lawmakers should require Uber to commit to recognizing representation for upstate drivers. “It gives drivers the power to continually make those changes, and that is something that was hard-fought,” she said. ” … There are over 45,000, nearly 50,000, Uber drivers in the city, all of whom are represented by the guild that can help give upstate drivers more power and clout to make workplace policy changes if they are joining up with that big group on shared concerns.”
The complex debate over whether drivers deserve employment benefits afforded to workers in a number of other industries apparently has not been lost on state lawmakers, who are said to have debated this point as they consider legislation to allow ride-hailing to expand.
“My friends don’t like their corporate jobs because there’s no flexibility,” Mr. Santos said. “So they say, ‘Maybe we’ll do Uber part-time instead.’”
He said he discouraged the change: “I tell them, ‘No way. You’ll lose money. There are so many expenses — maintenance, insurance, liability, the T.L.C. license, gas. And the only time you make real money is on surge — so you will miss family dinner and putting the kids to bed.’”
“But that’s the only way,” he added. “You have to treat it like an intense full-time job.”
To address these concerns, a coalition of New York City drivers and a regional branch of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers founded the Independent Drivers Guild in May.
Sohail Rana, 48, who drives for Uber and joined the guild in July, said he thought apps had made drivers “slaves to the surges.”
“We’re like sitting ducks,” said Mr. Rana, who started driving for UberBlack, the company’s high-end service, after business slowed for the private black car company he worked for, a downturn he attributed to the ride-hailing apps.
“They really just messed up the industry by saturating it so much,” he said. “It used to be that booking a black car would cost $100, $200 per hour.”
Drivers for UberBlack, which account for 6 percent of all Uber business in the city, by contrast, now earn about $33 per hour, he said. After expenses, Mr. Rana added, that amount was closer to $15 per hour.
According to James Conigliaro Jr., a founder of the guild, the 45,000 Uber drivers represented in the city are the victims of a “global bait-and-switch,” in which apps like Uber lure drivers with attractive fares only to extract ever-larger commissions and invest in driverless technology.
A statement from IDG Founder, Jim Conigliaro, Jr.:
Governor Cuomo is right that the Black Car Fund, which provides safety training and workers’ compensation for drivers injured on the job, must be part of any ridesharing legislation. Taking that a step further and establishing a broader portable benefits fund supported by company contributions would further protect workers and taxpayers.
Upstate drivers also deserve a seat at the table with Uber, like their brothers and sisters in NYC. With the Independent Drivers Guild, New York City’s nearly 50,000 Uber drivers enjoy the strongest job protection in America and are the only drivers in the world to meet with Uber management regularly to advocate for and win better workplace policies. Without representation, upstate drivers face an uncertain future. They would not benefit from the hard-fought victories won by downstate drivers or have a voice to win future changes.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
• 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: http://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.
New York guild promises to strengthen Uber drivers’ rights
One of the ways Uber has tried to head off potential labour issues this past year is by lending its support to a new type of labour organisation: the guild. Falling somewhere between a formal labour union and a trade association, the Independent Drivers Guild for Uber drivers in New York City, launched in May, has been pioneering a different model of representation.
The guild has already signed up roughly 45,000 Uber drivers since it was launched, says Jim Conigliaro Jr, founder of the guild and the general counsel at the Machinists Union District 15, which is closely affiliated with the Independent Drivers Guild. The guild draws most of its financial support from Uber and it is free for drivers to sign up. It is planning to shift to a voluntary dues system soon, which will offer extra benefits such as life insurance.
Big issues for the guild so far have been tipping, which Uber still does not allow through its app, and “deactivation”, which refers to when Uber removes drivers from the system. Working with the guild, Uber has agreed that a committee of five Uber drivers can be the ultimate arbiter over whether drivers are reactivated. This is a step forward from the previous system, under which drivers had no recourse to become reactivated.
In the long term, however, the guild’s ambitions are much bigger. It hopes to work with Uber and the Freelancers Union to create a centralised portable benefit fund that would help all independent contractors access better options for healthcare and retirement.
Because Uber drivers are independent contractors, and not full-time employees, they are not eligible in the US for employee protections such as union membership, the right to collective bargaining and healthcare or pension plans.
“This excluded class of worker is growing, and they don’t have access to unions,” says Mr Conigliaro. “I think it is important for unions to pivot, and to have another lane where they can bring workers up, and raise the floor for workers regardless of their classification.”