VICTORY!!! You Better Believe It! NYTWA Did It!

A New Day is Here!

Today, NYTWA members won a historic victory as New York City Council voted YES on the first legislation of its kind to regulate App companies like Uber and Lyft! New York City is the first city in the country to enact drivers' demands into legislation! Months of tireless organizing from members of every sector - yellow, App-based, green, livery, black car - made this victory possible! 

WHAT OUR ORGANIZING WON:

1) A cap on the number of new for-hire-vehicles for 12 months, with the exception of wheelchair accessible vehicles (WAV's). Diamond renewals will continue the same. FHV drivers who are now leasing to own their car will be able to get a new vehicle license during the one year.

2) TLC authority to regulate minimum rates of fare across the industry.  

3) TLC authority to regulate App minimum pay for App drivers and App passenger fares. Now App companies will no longer be able to recklessly cut rates on drivers' backs!

4) Creation of a new corporate license and TLC rulebook for App companies.

The City Council also introduced these bills today for September hearings...onward to our next victory!

1) Require TLC to make rules on FHV leasing, rental, lease-to-own, and conditional purchase agreements!

2) Require TLC to study problem of medallion owners with excessive debt and determine action!

3) Establish a health benefits fund for all drivers

4) Require FHV companies to pay drivers regardless of whether the electronic payment is denied

5) Require TLC to engage in outreach and education to drivers on financial decisions related to medallion purchase, lease, or refinancing and the purchase, rental, or lease of FHVs; and set up centers to help drivers with financial counseling and mental health

6) Establish an Office of Inclusion at TLC with focus on promoting diversity, inclusion, and cultural sensitivity in the industry, especially as they relate to service refusals

WHEN WE FIGHT, WE WIN! TOGETHER, WE HAVE THE POWER!

Months and months of tireless organizing made our victory possible. In unity, here is what we accomplished during our Protect Full-Time Jobs Campaign & Our Response to Driver suicides

November 2017
Surveyed 380 drivers on their economic conditions & demands

December 2017
General Meetings to finalize our demands

February 6, 2018
Vigil for Douglas Schifter at City Hall, following his suicide

March 28
Press Conference on City Hall Steps, following the suicide of Nicanor Ochisor 

April 1
Collected 4,000 postcards demanding that the Mayor & Governor address the crisis

April 25
City Hall Action Day! Drivers met with Council Members during morning meetings then rallied for a press conference on City Hall Steps to submit the 40+ demands of our comprehensive Policy Platform and Rulemaking Petition to the Mayor, the Speaker, and the TLC

April 30
Testified at the City Council FHV Committee Public Hearing

May 22
Press Conference for Police Action to Find Kenny Chow

May 27
Vigil for Kenny Chow

May 29
Rally for Council Action covering Broadway from Murray to Warren

June 7
City Council Stated Meeting Outreach lead by Richard Chow, brother of Kenny Chow

June 18
Press Conference outside City Hall for Abdul Saleh, following his suicide

June 18 - June 29
Daily Protest line outside City Hall from 10am to 6pm

June 21
Funeral service for Brother Abdul Saleh

July 3
Response to TLC Proposal regarding App driver pay

July 10
Demonstration outside City Hall following TLC Proposal that would lock drivers into wage ceiling

July 19
Won our Uber Unemployment Insurance decision victory!

July 29
Released our 9-point Civil Rights Initiative

July 31
Demonstration outside City Hall to say Yes to the FHV Cap + All Drivers' General Meeting to strategize & mobilize

August 1
Bangla Media Press Conference

August 2 - 5
Social Media Campaign to tell City Council: Vote Yes on the Cap! 

August 6
Demonstration outside Uber/Lyft HQ

August 7
Vigil for fallen driver brothers Alfredo, Danilo, Douglas, Nicanor, Kenny, and Abdul outside City Hall

August 8
Vote Day!!!

Read our statement from ED Bhairavi Desai following our victory: 

"This victory belongs to Douglas, to Abdul, to Nicanor, to Alfredo, to Kenny, to Danilo. This victory belongs to the thousands of NYTWA members scraping by to feed their families, who took time away from their cars, losing precious and hard fought income to be on the streets standing together and standing up for each other. This victory belongs to our brothers and sisters who pulled over to the side of the road to call City Council members during their grueling 14 hour shifts. This victory belongs to yellow cab, green cab, livery, black car, Uber and Lyft drivers who united together in our union to transform shared struggle and heartbreak into hope and strength. And this victory belongs to New Yorkers and our allies who have stood with us to say, not one more death, not one more fallen driver crushed by poverty and despair. 

"Thousands of NYTWA members have marched and rallied, have stood together in the blazing sun, in rainstorms, joining us us after sleepless nights and days behind the wheel. Our activism created the momentum to regulate app-dispatch companies for the very first time. What happened today didn't just set a precedent for New York City, it set a precedent for the entire world as app companies like Uber and Lyft use technological innovation to return us to a time of sweated labor, destroying lives and livelihoods across the planet. 

"Six New York City drivers have committed suicide in recent months, including two livery drivers, a black car driver, a yellow cab lease driver and two yellow cab owner-drivers, unable to survive the economic crisis brought on by the over saturation of for-hire-vehicles on our streets. Uber and Lyft have spent millions of dollars lobbying, running ad campaigns of disinformation and trying to push their agenda of libertarian anti-regulation zealotry. Today, New York City said, no more. We cannot be bought. Workers must come before a corporate agenda of greed at all costs. 

"Today, a workforce of over 100,000 men and women, a workforce of immigrants and people color, finally have a reason to hope for an end to this crisis. Today we took the first step. Tomorrow we will continue to fight."

WIN THE VOTES! Take Action to Protect our Victory on August 8th!!!

THIS! IS! IT!... SHOW UP FOR VICTORY!!! FILL UP CITY HALL TOMORROW WEDNESDAY AUGUST 8th FOR A HISTORIC VOTE DAY!!! (Broadway & Murray)

BE SEEN AND BE HEARD FOR VICTORY!!! SPREAD THE WORD!!

What City Council is voting on tomorrow because of our organizing:

  • Cap on new FHV cars for 12 months with exception or Wheelchair Accessible Vehicles (WAVs). Diamond renewals will continue the same. FHV drivers now leasing-to-own their car will be able to get a new vehicle license during the one year.
  • TLC authority to regulate App minimum pay for App drivers and App passenger fares.
  • Creation of a new corporate license and TLC rulebook for the App companies.
  • The Council also announced plans to introduce a bill to put a cap on FHV car vehicle financing and rental leases and to set up a health fund for all drivers.

From La Guardia to Penn Station to our neighborhood mom & pop stores, we're spreading the word and letting City Council know: We Need the Cap! Vote Yes! Don't Let Uber Stop the City from Passing Regulations to Protect our Full-Time Jobs!

 CLICK HERE FOR OUR FACEBOOK ALBUM OF PHOTOS FROM THE CAMPAIGN!

CLICK HERE FOR OUR FACEBOOK ALBUM OF PHOTOS FROM THE CAMPAIGN!

NYTWA Racial Justice and Civil Rights Initiative

NYTWA is committed to addressing race-based refusals head on while we continue our fight for economic justice. This week we introduced our racial justice and civil rights initiative to stop race-based refusals in the taxi and for-hire industry, a long-standing issue in our industry which we have worked to address throughout the years.  We know our organizing has been a factor in complaints coming down through the years, and more so, we know much more still needs to be done.   We look forward to continuing our work with the TLC through the newly established Office of Inclusion.  Our proposals include racial justice mandatory training for all TLC professionally licensed drivers as part of license renewal, peer-to-peer driver outreach to address bias, improvements in taxi e-hail such as pre-payments and navigation, recruitment for new drivers in under represented communities and taxi stands in the central business district and at subway stops.

Drivers collectively serve over a million people every single day.  We are the ambassadors of this city, and operate its iconic symbol.  We don’t want to be alienated from discussions of justice and fairness in our city.  More importantly, we want to be contributors to move us forward as a community, never backwards. 

You can also read an OpEd by Councilwoman Adrienne Adams which highlights our Initiative here

United to Win: Our July 31st Day of Action!

On July 31st NYTWA members from all sectors rallied together outside City Hall!

With less than 24-hours notice, many of our  yellow taxi, green cab, livery, black car, and App-based members stood alongside our allies from SEIU 32BJ, Fast Food Justice, ALIGN, New York Immigration Coalition, Desis Rising Up & Moving (DRUM) and National Employment Law Project (NELP) to tell City Council: Pass the Cap! Put the People Before Uber's Profits! Council Members Steve Levin (who introduced the cap bill), Brad Lander, and Helen Rosenthal addressed the crowd to say they stand with drivers!

 DRivers and allies gather outside city hall to say, "City council, we need a cap now!"

DRivers and allies gather outside city hall to say, "City council, we need a cap now!"

 hector figueroa, president of seiu 32bj - and  seiu 32bj members - stood in solidarity with drivers outside city hall!

hector figueroa, president of seiu 32bj - and  seiu 32bj members - stood in solidarity with drivers outside city hall!

After our rally, members came together at the union office that night to strategize and mobilize!

Members packed our office to hear the latest update on City Council bills and to strategize towards victory on August 8th!!!

aug 1 gm.jpg

Official Meeting End Time: 3:15 AM. We're fired up and ready to win on August 8th!!!

aug 1 gm members.jpg

Council Bills being proposed:

* Cap on new FHV cars for 12 months with exception for wheel chair accessible cars and authority to TLC to issue licenses based on service needs
* TLC authority to regulate App minimum pay for App drivers and App passenger fares
* Creation of a new corporate license and TLC rulebook for the App companies
* The Council also announced plans to introduce a bill to put a cap on FHV car vehicle financing and rental leases and to set up a health fund for all drivers.

Our organizing brought the bills to the table! Our organizing can win the laws! After we lost the fight in 2015, Uber cut the fare and flooded the streets. That political victory for Uber, Lyft & Wall Street was the start of our crushing crisis. Six of our brothers have taken their own lives. Thousands faced bankruptcy and evictions. We are united to fight back! Now, Uber is facing more regulations for first time. Together, We Can Win!

MAKE SOME NOISE! BE SEEN TO BE HEARD! CALL AND VISIT YOUR COUNCIL MEMBER NOW!

NYTWA Statement on Proposed For-Hire-Vehicle CAP in NYC, Cap on FHV leasing expenses, & Health Fund for Drivers

(New York, NY) On Thursday, July 26, Politico and The New York Times reported that the City Council was moving forward with a bill to cap For-Hire-Vehicles, including cars dispatched by Uber and Lyft, for the first time in the country. Through our unity campaign of yellow cab, green cab, livery, black car, and app-dispatched drivers, NYTWA members have been fighting for this cap for more than three years, holding rallies and marches and spreading the word about the financial crisis that has lead six professional drivers to suicide. Our movement also pushed the City Council to introduce legislation to stop predatory lending in the for-hire sector and authorize a health fund - something NYTWA members won several years ago but which got held up in court by the bosses. Earlier this month, NYTWA won a historic victory for our Uber driver members - the NYS Unemployment Insurance Appeal Board rejected Uber's 11th hour attempt to withdraw their appeal and ruled that three of our Uber driver members and all those similarly situated are employees with rights to unemployment benefits. 

NYTWA Executive Director Bhairavi Desai released the following statement on the City Council bills: 

"Driver organizing pushed City Council to introduce a bill to cap for-hire-vehicles. At the same time, our movement pushed the Council to introduce bills to authorize a health and wellness fund for drivers in all sectors and cap leasing expenses in the for-hire industry for the first time to prevent predatory lending, protections similar to what NYTWA previously won for drivers in the yellow cab sector.

"Thousands of NYTWA members have marched and rallied and our activism created the momentum to regulate app-dispatch companies for the first time. The For-Hire-Vehicle cap is an important step to stop the crisis of poverty that pushed six New York City professional drivers to suicide. We need to keep up the momentum as Uber spends its Wall Street millions on an ad campaign of disinformation to try to stop the cap.  

"Uber, Lyft and other Wall-Street-financed app companies already have over 80,000 affiliated vehicles, compared to 13,500 yellow cabs and 4,000 green cabs. And there are another 30,000 black cars not currently affiliated with any app company that they can still dispatch. While Uber is trying to stop the cap, Uber's own drivers are spending 42 percent of their time on the app roaming empty in search of fares because Uber has oversaturated our roads with too many vehicles. 

"Uber has been allowed to operate unfettered for over five years and the result is a crushing race to the bottom and economic despair among a workforce of over 100,000 drivers. The proposed cap is a necessary pause button after six drivers have committed suicide as a result of that despair, and as broader issues of congestion and loss in MTA revenue and ridership caused by Uber, Lyft and cohorts grip the city.  

"The pause button is a start, but we can't stop with the cap.  The 50,000 professional drivers in NYC that are not dispatched through an app can't be left behind as the City Council looks to address the economic crisis. The six drivers who took their lives because of financial despair were all among this group of drivers that includes yellow cab lease drivers, yellow cab owner-drivers, green cab drivers, livery drivers, and traditional black car drivers. The only driver income protection measure so far introduced by the Council ignores these 50,000 drivers while locking in App drivers at a minimum wage where the wage floor effectively becomes a ceiling limiting driver earnings.  

App-dispatch rides need to be regulated at the yellow and green cab regulated rate of fare, so all drivers can get a raise and no company can drop out the bottom on fares as an anti-competitive tactic. 

"We support the cap and we will continue to fight for solutions that help ALL drivers recover from this crushing crisis."

Background on recent driver suicides and the financial crisis hurting drivers in every sector:

Six NYC professional drivers have committed suicide in recent months due to financial despair caused by Uber's business model of greed and monopolization. The drivers who killed themselves included two Bronx livery drivers, one black car driver, two yellow cab owner-drivers and one yellow cab lease drivers. This crisis is hurting drivers in every sector.  

While drivers are fighting to survive, UBER is running seven-figure ad campaign full of misinformation targeting outer-borough residents. The last time NYC proposed capping for-hire-vehicles in 2015, Uber spent millions on ads and lobbying against the cap. Now there are upwards of 80,000 app-dispatched vehicles on the road, the vast majority Uber-affiliated, with 2,000 more added every month. Uber and Lyft now have more lobbyists than Walmart, Amazon and Microsoft combined and borrow bullying tactics from the gun and tobacco lobby to stop cities from regulating. 

As we we fight to stop the crisis that is pushing drivers to despair, NYTWA is also working to create more mental health resources for struggling drivers including, mobile health units, health and financial services fair at the airports, peer-to-peer mental health training program, training drivers to conduct outreach to coworkers. City Council announced that they will be introducing legislation to reestablish a health fund. 

Click here to read more about NYTWA's focus on mental health resources.

Abdul Saleh, a yellow cab lease driver, was the sixth NYC professional driver to commit suicide in recent months. In June, he was found dead in his rented Brooklyn room. He was a Yemeni immigrant who had been struggling financially for months, having difficulty covering his share of the medallion lease he shared with his driving partner. In recent weeks, he had been short on his lease payment by $30 to $40 each week, and in his last week worked he was $300 short, meaning that all of his income was going toward the lease, with nothing left over for himself. 

Click here to read our full statement on the sixth NYC driver suicide.

The other recent suicides were Yu Mein Kenny Chow, a yellow cab owner-driver, who had been missing for eleven days before his body was identified after washing up under the Brooklyn Bridge (Kenny Chow's family has started a GoFundMe to help his wife, who is fighting stage 4 cancer); Nicanor Ochisor, a yellow taxi owner-driver who drove with his wife (there is also a GoFundMe to help Nicanor's wife); Danilo Corporan Castillo, a Bronx livery driver who wrote his suicide note on a Taxi and Limousine Summons; Alfredo Perez, a Bronx livery driver; and Douglas Schifter, a black car driver who shot himself in front of City Hall after posting a note on Facebook saying that the city's failure to regulate Uber had destroyed his livelihood.

Professional drivers across the industry have been financially devastated - including yellow taxi, green cab, livery, black car, and app-dispatched drivers for Uber and Lyft - because of the city's failure to regulate the app-dispatch companies creating gridlock, flooding our streets with 130,000 vehicles, and lowering labor standards. Meanwhile, yellow taxis are capped by the city at under 13,650. 

Uber claims to help outer borough residents but has decimated the green cab sector, created specifically to serve the needs of outer boroughs. Green cab permits are all owned by drivers. The city planned to have 18,000 green cabs serving outer boroughs by 2016, but after reaching 6,300 in 2015, as of last year there were only 4,000 green cabs left on the road as green cab drivers gave up their permits, unable to earn a living because of the city's failure to cap app-dispatched vehicles. 

Foreclosures and bankruptcies are on the rise as driver incomes continue to plummet across the industry. An Economic Policy Institute study found that Uber drivers earn on average less than $10 an hour after expenses. No driver wins this vicious race to the bottom.

Drivers call NYTWA in the middle of the night in crisis, needing referrals to homeless services and suicide prevention resources. And the devastation continues unabated.

NYTWA has been ringing the alarm on the growing economic crisis, pointing out both the race to the bottom, the growing evictions and bankruptcies and foreclosures, and the harshness for a workforce that is overworked and aging. Our proposals for yellow, green, livery, black car and App-based drivers need to be met to lift drivers out of poverty and protect full-time jobs. 

You can read our complete policy platform and demands on our website NYTWA.org. Now that the City Council has introduced the CAP on for-hire-vehicles, we will continue to fight so that our other demands are met: 

  • CAP the number of for-hire-vehicles clogging New York City streets
     
  • Set the yellow and green cab meter as the minimum fare rate across the industry in order to establish a wage floor, so no company can lower rates on drivers' backs. 
     
  • Establish fair labor standards across the industry- including caps on driver expenses to end predatory lending in this new market which has been unregulated for five years. Cap App company commissions so that FHV drivers get at least 80 percent of whichever is higher - the fare quoted to passenger or the metered rate. 
     
  • Program for Yellow Cab Medallion Owner-Drivers struggling with expenses as much as $6,000/month with 80% of loans under water. The city can call on lenders to lower interest rates and extend payments, waive licensing fees and find emergency grants to avoid foreclosures and bankruptcies.  The Council must also establish a commission to oversee predatory lending and stop inflated values.
  • Raise fare rates so drivers have a chance at economic recovery after five years of straight loss.

  • No Congestion Pricing on Drivers' backs! In the midst of this crisis, Albany passed a Congestion Pricing plan lobbied for by Wall Street.  It's aimed at further destabilizing the taxi industry that has contributed over $1 billion toward the MTA since 2009 and rewarding Uber, Lyft business model that takes aim directly at mass transit.
     
  • Health and Benefits Fund, including retirement for all drivers and mental health resources.
     
  • Regulate App Companies. Don't scapegoat App Drivers. No fees on drivers' backs. No one-App restriction.