Chicago Gig Workers Join With Nation’s Largest Uber and Lyft Drivers Guild to Launch IDG Chicago

IDG Chicago Aims to Empower Chicago Gig Workers with Rights, Benefits

Chicago, IL — Chicago gig workers and organizers are joining with the nation’s largest organization of rideshare drivers to launch a Chicago branch of the Independent Drivers Guild (IDG), a drivers’ rights organization affiliated with the Machinists Union. IDG-Chicago will aim to empower Chicago gig workers and advocate for rights, protections and benefits for the drivers who keep Chicago moving.

The longtime Chicago rideshare driver organizers behind Gig Workers Matter are joining forces and becoming part of the IDG to expand efforts to empower the city’s tens of thousands of rideshare drivers. Gig Workers Matter has played a critical role in advocating for Chicago rideshare drivers and other gig economy workers, from mobilizing hundreds of Chicago drivers to advocate for their rights in the state legislature to providing critical information and support to drivers during the COVID-19 pandemic. These Chicago driver-organizers will expand their work advocating for gig workers as IDG-Chicago while benefiting from the experience and expertise of being part of the nation’s largest and most impactful driver organization.

Chicago rideshare drivers Lenny Sanchez, Steven Everett, and Mark Smithivas who co-founded Gig Workers Matter and helped organize Chicago’s largest gig worker actions like a demonstration at the Chicago Uber hub, and a rolling advocacy action at O’Hare. The three said they were excited to scale up driver advocacy efforts in their hometown with IDG-Chicago. 

“For too long Uber and Lyft have held all the power. They hike prices for riders, cut pay for drivers and change the app whenever they want and drivers don’t have any recourse. We’re excited to launch IDG-Chicago to fight back,” said rideshare driver and IDG-Chicago co-founder Lenny Sanchez.

“IDG beat the odds to win higher pay and benefits for drivers in New York City and working together, we know we can do the same here in Chicago,” said Steven Everett, a Chicago rideshare driver who has been organizing gig workers in Chicago for over two years.

Mark Smithivas, a driver and organizer with GWM who is co-founding IDG-Chicago with Sanchez and Everett, noted, “Building power for gig workers is not easy, especially when the big platform companies have millions to pour into lobbying campaigns like we saw in California. We can’t let drivers get steam-rolled in Chicago. We need a voice in our future.”

After decades organizing for-hire vehicle drivers in New York City, the Machinists Union helped New York drivers form the Independent Drivers Guild in 2016. Since that time, the Guild has grown from representing 60,000 drivers to advocating for more than 200,000 drivers across New York, New Jersey and Connecticut. The new expansion to Chicago will allow the Guild to advocate for tens of thousands of additional drivers. 

The IDG has achieved landmark victories for rideshare drivers that have put billions of dollars in drivers’ pockets, from requiring Uber to add a tipping option in the app to petitioning for and winning the nation’s first minimum wage protection for rideshare drivers, which New York City found raised driver pay by half a billion dollars in a six month period. The Guild also fought for and won an appeals process for Uber and Lyft drivers to dispute unfair firings or deactivations and benefits including free vision, telemedicine, and counseling.

“When workers stand together we can achieve real change. With both of our organization’s focus on new 21st century organizing models, we can achieve tremendous changes for the drivers in Chicago and Illinois. We are excited to launch IDG Chicago as we continue to expand our campaign to empower gig workers,” said Brendan Sexton, Executive Director of the Independent Drivers Guild.