After a two-year campaign by the Independent Drivers Guild, New York City officials voted to pass the nation’s first legislation to close the minimum wage loophole for companies like Uber and Lyft and require a minimum pay rate for app-based drivers. The City Council also passed additional FHV bills, including the temporary cap on for-hire vehicles and new data reporting requirements. See photo of IDG members rallying in favor of the bills at City hall with Council Member Brad Lander.
The Independent Drivers Guild, an affiliate of the Machinists Union, represents and advocates for more than 65,000 professional drivers for apps like Uber, Lyft, Via and Juno in New York City. In the two years since the Independent Drivers Guild first called on the city to establish a pay floor, the Guild has waged a massive, worker-led campaign. See the timeline here. Thousands of drivers came together with the IDG to fight for this legislation, representing a victory for organized labor in a decidedly challenging industry given the lack of rights for workers classified as contractors.
“More than 65,000 working families will be getting a desperately needed raise because of today’s vote. We hope this is the start of a more fair industry not only here in New York City, but all over the world,” said IDG founder Jim Conigliaro, Jr. “We cannot allow the so-called ‘gig economy’ companies to exploit loopholes in the law in order to strip workers of their rights and protections.”
“Workers in the gig economy deserve a place in our union,” said Eastern Territory General Vice President Jimmy Conigliaro, Sr. “These independent workers also deserve the same benefits as anyone who works – access to affordable health care, retirement security, disability insurance, education and improved labor rights. The IDG has and continues to make that a reality.”
“Workers and New York leaders made history today. It’s not easy taking on Silicon Valley behemoths, but we kept on fighting for what we know is right and today the workers prevailed. We are thankful to the New York City officials who listened to the stories of drivers who are struggling to support their families and stood by us in this fight,” said IDG Executive Director Ryan Price. “In particular, our thanks go out to Speaker Corey Johnson, Council Members Lander and Levin, and everyone at the Taxi and Limousine Commission who has been working with us on this effort for the last two years.”
More than 16,000 drivers signed the IDG’s petition to require a minimum pay rate for apps like Uber and Lyft. To force action, the IDG filed a formal rulemaking petition in March and the city responded in May that it planned to act on pay rules this summer. The IDG used the same regulatory and legislative tactics to require Uber to add a tipping option to the app last year. Just months after the city greenlighted the IDG’s proposed tipping rules, Uber added a tipping option not only for New York City (its biggest market) but for drivers across the U.S.
IDG Fair Pay Campaign: By The Numbers
“Uber and Lyft have had every opportunity to pay drivers fairly, but instead they went out of their way to design new and deceitful ways to slash our pay and take more and more of our hard-earned fares. Meanwhile, they have flooded the streets with more drivers than there is work. It’s cruel to their existing drivers and it is cruel to the new drivers who are going into debt to do a job they wrongly believe will pay off.” said IDG member Hailing “Henry” Chen, a 26-year-old Uber driver who lives in Queens. “The companies are trying to claim they now support fair pay for drivers, but those are lies. They fought this every step of the way. Even after report after report came out showing the apps pay less than minimum wage, the companies denied it and refused to raise our pay. This victory was won by the workers. Only when workers came together to put massive pressure on city officials did they act. ”
In New York City, nearly 90 percent of IDG members drive for apps as their main source of income and nine in ten drivers are immigrants.