August 14, 2018: Historic Victory for Drivers as Mayor Signs Into Law Uber Cap and Other Bills Championed by New York Taxi Workers Alliance

NYTWA Statement: "This legislation creates a blueprint for the rest of the world and is a direct result of NYTWA's groundbreaking organizing to unite yellow cab and Uber drivers..." 

August 14, 2018

(New York, NY) Today, Mayor Bill de Blasio is expected to sign landmark legislation into law to regulates app companies like Uber and Lyft for the first time. The one-year for-hire-vehicle cap is will go into effect immediately. The legislation also gives the Taxi and Limousine Commission the authority to initiate rulemaking on minimum pay rates for app drivers and minimum rates of passenger fare in the for-hire sector. In response to NYTWA's policy proposals,the City Council has also introduced legislation to stop predatory lending to Uber and Lyft drivers just as NYTWA previously won for yellow cab lease drivers, to create an Office of Inclusion to address race-based refusals, to provide financial assistance for struggling owner-drivers, and to create a health and wellness fund for drivers in every sector. 


NYTWA members have mobilized nonstop since last November to make this victory possible. Last week, family members of the six drivers who committed suicide joined us for actions leading up to the City Council vote. George Schifter, the brother of black car driver Doug Schifter, who shot himself outside City Hall, flew all the way from Florida to join us for the vote.  
NYTWA Executive Director Bhairavi Desai released the follow statement:

"Today, New York City is hitting pause on the economic hemorrhaging that has left tens of thousands of immigrant families in chaos and despair. Driver incomes across all sectors have been in a downward spiral as Uber and Lyft flooded our streets. The immediate cap on new For-Hire-Vehicles puts a stop to that. Now, yellow taxi, green cab, black car, livery, Uber and Lyft drivers can finally hope for stability.
 
"This legislation creates a blueprint for the rest of the world and is a direct result of NYTWA's groundbreaking organizing to unite yellow cab and Uber drivers, as well as green cab, black car, and livery drivers. Through our shared struggle we created NYTWA's policy platform and the legislation being signed into law today stems from our proposals to solve this crisis. 
"NYTWA members organized more than 25 actions since November 2017, including 12 demonstrations between February 2018 up to the August 8th City Council vote. 

"This is a victory of worker power over Wall Street greed."


ABOUT THE LEGISLATION BEING SIGNED INTO LAW TODAY:

The package of bills expected to be signed into law today include a 12-month cap on new For-Hire-Vehicle licenses, with an exception for wheelchair accessible vehicles, which goes into effect immediately. Additionally, the bills include a minimum pay requirement for app drivers, and give authority to the Taxi and Limousine Commission to regulate minimum rates of fare in all sectors.  

The council has also introduced another package of bills in response to NYTWA's demands, including the creation of a health and benefits fund for drivers in every sector, the creation of an Office of Inclusion to address race-based refusals, financial assistance for yellow cab owner-drivers and regulations on FHV car leasing expenses to stop predatory lending. 

Highlight of recent NYTWA Actions: 

  • Last week, NYTWA Uber and Lyft driver members led a rally at Uber/Lyft headquarters along with NYTWA members who drive yellow, green, black, and livery cars. 
     

  • On the same day, NYTWA member and Uber driver Tidiane Samassa published an OpEd in the New York Daily News in support of the cap"I drive for Uber in New York City - and right now, the company that pays me pennies is spending millions of dollars to try to stop the City Council from passing a cap on new for-hire vehicles and other bills that would help me feed my family and keep our apartment."
     

  • Last Tuesday, NYTWA held a vigil with the family members of the drivers who committed suicide, including Richard Chow, brother of Kenny Chow, and George Schifter, who traveled all the way from Florida to join the protest and be present for the City Council vote. George is the brother of black car driver Doug Schifter who shot himself outside of City Hall after posting on Facebook that the unchecked saturation of NYC streets by Uber-dispatched vehicles had destroyed his livelihood.


(See below for a complete list of actions NYTWA has organized since November 2017 to make today's victory possible)

IMAGES FOR MEDIA: Click here for photos of yellow, green, Uber, Lyft, black car, and livery drivers rallying and holding NYTWA signs in support of the City Council legislation. 


ALLIES JOINED THE FIGHT

Our organizing was full of humanity for the six driver brothers lost to suicide and dignity to defend our right to a better life. And the City Council, media, fellow labor unions, social justice organizations, religious leaders, and the public saw us and heard us and they came to our side in the fight. 

  • City Council Woman Adrienne Adams published an OpEd in the New York Times calling the FHV cap a step in the right direction for racial and economic justice. 
     

  • The National Employment Law Project published an opinion piece in Crains in support of the FHV cap and calling for Uber to stop interfering in our local democracy. 

THE SIX NYC DRIVERS PUSHED TO SUICIDE BY FINANCIAL DESPAIR

Abdul Saleh, a yellow cab lease driver, was the sixth NYC professional driver to commit suicide in recent months. 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. 

Yu Mein Kenny Chow was 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 was a yellow taxi owner-driver who drove with his wife (there is also a GoFundMe to help Nicanor's wife). 

Danilo Corporan Castillo was a Bronx livery driver who wrote his suicide note on a Taxi and Limousine Summons. 

Alfredo Perez was a Bronx livery driver who hung himself in November. 

Douglas Schifter was 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.