New York City votes to establish minimum wage for Uber, Lyft drivers

Image: Facebook/New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission

Dec. 5 (UPI) — New York City’s Taxi and Limousine Commission voted Tuesday in favor of establishing a minimum wage for app-dispatched drivers.

The city became the first in the United States to set a minimum wage for drivers working for companies such as Uber, Lyft, Juno and Via at $17.22 per hour.

“This first-time regulation to form a floor for app driver earnings and give a modest first raise is a long time in the making. It’s the first real attempt anywhere to stop app driver pay cuts, which is an Uber and Lyft business practice at the heart of poverty wages,” New York Taxi Workers Alliance Executive Director Bhairavi Desai said in a statement. “Just as it did with the vehicle cap, New York City is once again passing landmark regulation to protect workers in the unruly gig economy.”

The $17.22 per hour is $2.22 above the city’s $15 per hour minimum wage, accounting for contract drivers’ payroll taxes and paid time off.

Tuesday’s vote comes after the Taxi and Limousine Commission released the results of a study recommending a pay floor, which prompted New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio to sign a bill requiring the commission to set a base pay rate.

“Ultimately, the TLC needs to regulate Uber and Lyft passenger rates, guarantee that app drivers get 80 percent of those rates, and regulate the yellow/green meter to charge the same minimum rates, so drivers across the industry can earn a raise,” Desai said.

Some ride-sharing services have resisted the change, including Lyft, which told Engadget that calculating pay per ride rather than per week could cause drivers to take short rides over long rides and that it would be difficult for the company to implement a process to pay drivers more when they take passengers outside of the city and return without a passenger in the 30 days before the regulations take effect.

“Lyft believes all drivers should earn a livable wage and we are committed to helping drivers reach their goals,” the company said. “Unfortunately, the TLC’s proposed pay rules will undermine competition by allowing certain companies to pay drivers lower wages, and disincentive drivers from giving rides to and from areas outside Manhattan. These rules would be a step backward for New Yorkers, and we urge the TLC to reconsider them.”


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