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.
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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.
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 email@example.com.
• 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.”
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/575453429326994/
The meeting will at 7pm on January 3rd at:
Black Car Fund Safety Center
38-38 Crescent Street
Long Island City, NY 11101
If you are in need of special assistance please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or contact us.
Ridesharing drivers of services, including Uber and Lyft, have a problem of utmost urgency—they have nowhere to use the bathroom when dropping off and picking up customers at the world’s busiest airport, JFK.
“The lack of clean, accessible bathrooms for drivers has been a problem for too long. The atrocious situation at JFK airport must be corrected,” said Independent Drivers Guild founder Jim Conigliaro, Jr., in a press release. “Drivers have been bringing this up to the authorities and rideshare companies for years with no progress—but with the power of the Guild, we intend to win this basic necessity.”
The Independent Drivers Guild is a newly-formed organization created to protect and address concerns of independent car service drivers in New York.
The group has launched an online campaign urging the New York Port Authority—the governing body over the city’s transportation—to provide accommodations for ridesharing service drivers.
Licensed New York City cab drivers have access to restroom facilities at the airport in JFK’s Central Taxi Hold. However, a report from several years ago cites the conditions of those restrooms as “stomach-churning.”
Still, any bathroom is better than none. “Ridesharing passengers would be shocked to see the conditions these drivers are subjected to,” Conigliaro, Jr. said. “We invite passengers and the public to stand with us, by signing the petition to correct this indignity.”
Independent drivers are especially concerned about the holiday season—more drivers will spend time at the airports.
The online petition goes into detail about the issue:
It’s a grim situation in the waiting lot. Half-filled bottles of questionable origin and odor litter the cell phone lot, where the only place to go to the bathroom currently is a section of the parking lot where there are a few anemic bushes.
Drivers have been bringing this up with rideshare companies and the Port Authority for years. It seems that there is finally some movement on this issue, but we need your help to get this done. The powers that be need to hear from you!
By Jim Conigliaro Jr., Commentary | Albany Times Union
Ride-sharing companies are back making big promises in New York state. In all the fervor upstate, the challenges in communities where ride-sharing already exists are being forgotten. In New York City, where I advocate for Uber drivers, ride-sharing companies have operated for years, shifting risk and burden on to the workers and taxpayers. While upstaters and visitors bemoan the lack of ride-sharing, being a “late-mover” gives our state a critical advantage.
As we debate legalizing the ride-sharing industry, legislators have a unique opportunity to ensure ride-sharing “jobs” meet basic standards. New York will never have more leverage with ride-sharing companies than it has right now. Legislators must not let Uber push through a rush deal to operate without oversight while New Yorkers pay the price. Upstate has waited this long, lawmakers should take a few more weeks to get this right. This is the perfect time for New York to chart a more responsible and sustainable path for ride-sharing and serve as a global model.
Ride-sharing drivers are deemed contractors and denied the job protections and benefits many Americans take for granted. Forget retirement accounts and dental — drivers don’t get sick days and many lack health insurance. Much like Walmart, ride-sharing companies are transferring labor costs and risk to workers and taxpayers. Taxpayers should never be forced to subsidize wealthy international corporations.
We must get these companies to pay their fair share. Establishing a benefits fund for workers and requiring the companies to fund it is one way to do that. By the same token, New York must require that ride-sharing companies contribute to the state’s Black Car Fund for upstate drivers, just as they do for drivers in New York City. This fund covers workers compensation insurance for work-related injuries as well as safety training.
Independent contractors are also precluded from being members of a labor union. But that doesn’t mean these workers can’t have a voice.
When New York City drivers stood together and demanded change alongside the Machinists Union, they created the Independent Drivers Guild (IDG) which represents over 45,000 Uber drivers. IDG members won the strongest termination appeals process in the nation, a modest raise to the minimum rate per trip, and faster response times for contacting the company. Now New York City drivers are the only workers in America who meet with Uber management regularly to raise important workplace issues. New York must not legalize ride-sharing without upstate drivers having a voice in the workplace.
State lawmakers should also establish a ride-sharing oversight board to monitor earnings rules, enforcement and working conditions of the ride-sharing industry. A central board whose members are balanced between the interests of labor, companies and the public could collect unbiased data to regulate the industry while maintaining the flexibility that would be difficult to achieve in the Legislature.
Finally, New York must level the playing field for ride-sharing passengers by eliminating the nearly 9 percent state sales tax on each fare. Companies use this tax to unfairly cut into the drivers’ share. Taxi and livery passengers are exempt from this sales tax; ride-sharing should be, too.
If Uber and Lyft want to operate upstate on the promise of job creation, let’s make sure those jobs have basic protections. New Yorkers and our labor unions have a sacred history of protecting the working class, and as the job landscape shifts we must act to ensure that no worker is left without a voice. New York must seize this unique opportunity and set the precedent for a more responsible ride-sharing industry.
Uber Drivers’Petition Calls For Bathroom at JFK Airport
New York, NY — There’s a problem that For Hire Vehicle drivers have been trying to address for years – there’s no place for drivers to use the bathroom at JFK airport. While passengers, taxi drivers, and evenpets have access to a restroom at JFK, ridesharing drivers wait in a satellite lot with no facilities. As ridesharing drivers wait for passengers making their way through one of the world’s busiest airports, there is no safe, clean place to use the restroom.
“It’s a grim situation in the waiting lot. Half-filled bottles of questionable origin and odor litter the cell phone lot, where the only place to go to the bathroom currently is a section of the parking lot where there are a few anemic bushes,” said Sohail Rana, Uber Driver & IDG Committee Member.
“The lack of clean, accessible bathrooms for drivers has been a problem for too long. The atrocious situation at JFK airport must be corrected,” said Independent Drivers Guild founder Jim Conigliaro, Jr. “Drivers have been bringing this up to the authorities and rideshare companies for years with no progress – but with the power of the Guild we intend to win this basic necessity.”
The airports are always one of the busiest locations for ridesharing drivers, but the increased travel at the holiday season means drivers will be spending even more time at JFK. Limiting access to clean restrooms and handwashing facilities is a health threat for drivers, who face increased risk ofinfection, as well as for the broader public.
“Ridesharing passengers would be shocked to see the conditions these drivers are subjected to,” added Conigliaro, Jr. “We invite passengers and the public to stand with us by signing the petition to correct this indignity.”
The Guild is spreading the word through emails, texts, and social media: