Congratulations May 8 STRIKERS! Salutations to STRIKER families! Gratitude to our dear riders who refused to cross the strike line! You made history with your sacrifice and shook Wall Street in its boots. Before they rang their bell we rang the alarm. And the good people of the world stood up for us and with us. Strikes belong to the fearless and the visionary. And the victory is not in how they define us. It's in our new awakening. The new day has dawned. And we're never going back. Onward and forward. To victory we drive.
To our NYTWA members, we are so proud to be your union. To our sister organizations, we are so proud to be your comrades. Driver Power! Union Power!
A JP Morgan Chase study found drivers were earning in 2017 less than half of what they earned in 2013. The average monthly pay for drivers in Los Angeles was as little as $848. The Economic Policy Institute reported drivers in more than 40 states earn below the state’s minimum wage. An investigation by the Federal Trade Commission concluded that less than 10% of drivers earned the rates Uber touted to attract drivers to the job and to vehicle financing deals with Uber-affiliated companies.
Still, Uber and Lyft think they pay drivers too much already. With more lobbyists than Walmart, Amazon and Microsoft combined, Uber and Lyft have secured laws to block Uber/Lyft drivers from having basic employment rights.
Uber/Lyft control the rate of fare, dispatch the trip and fire without notice if you fail their standards. But they claim drivers are independent contractors, so drivers are locked out of state and federal labor law protections such as Minimum Wage, paid family leave, employer share of social security, healthcare, the right to a democratic union and more. Through an arbitration clause in the contracts, drivers are also locked out of suing these companies in state and federal courts.
Meanwhile, investors have reportedly told both Uber and Lyft that driver pay needs to be lowered. Uber wrote in its S1 pre-IPO filing that it expects drivers to become increasingly dissatisfied.
On February 1, 2019 NYC Taxi and Limousine Commission-regulated rates on how much App companies must pay drivers per mile and minute went into effect. A study commissioned by the TLC had found over 80% of NYC App drivers were taking home less than $15/hour, 40% of drivers earned low enough to be eligible for Medicaid and 18% qualified for Food Stamps.
While the first-time regulated minute and mile rates protect drivers against the companies cutting the rates, and are calculated to give drivers $15/hour, it’s just not enough. The rates also only apply to trips that start in NYC. So if a NYC driver gets a fare in the bordering counties of Westchester or Nassau, or on a trip back from NJ or Connecticut, the driver is paid at the rates of those counties or states.
Drivers used to earn a percentage of whatever the passenger paid. Then in 2017, just as Uber started charging passengers more, it cut drivers out of the revenue by paying them at one rate on distance and time, while passengers were quoted a flat Upfront Pricing fare. On some fares, drivers were paid less than 60% of what the passenger actually paid the company. Out of 1,000 UberX trips randomly compiled by NYTWA, we found the real commission to be 29.1%; in 2013 the commission had been 10%. The gap between customer pay and driver share will only grow as both companies are under investor pressure to charge customers more and pay drivers less.
Minimum Wage is a floor to stand on. It can’t become the ceiling. NYC drivers are demanding the TLC regulate a minimum rate of the passenger fare – so drivers in other sectors are also not undercut – and guarantee drivers earn 80% - 85% of the fare by capping the commission at no more than 15% - 20%. Regulation of App passenger fare also gives a fighting chance for drivers in other NYC sectors – yellow, green, livery, corporate black car – to earn more, not having to be afraid that App companies will use deep-pocket investor money to artificially keep fares low in their quest to monopolize.
Uber, Lyft, and all App Companies deactivate drivers for no just reason, and without proper Appeals. Deactivation is just Silicon Valley - speak for unjust firing. Drivers can lose up to months before hearing back, making it hard to look for other work. When App drivers are deactivated, they lose not only their incomes and a steady job, but they also have to pay for vehicle and insurance expenses out of pocket. Drivers fall deep into debt.
We demand job security for App Drivers that will be won when Uber and company issue new contracts that tell drivers of their rights. Uber hasn’t issued a new contract since 2015, just adding more “Addendums” that are in small, hard-to-read text. The Companies must issue new contracts in simple, clear language that inform drivers of their rights, including their policy on deactivation. And the City must legislate terms for just terminations, and guarantee drivers’ right to appeal through courts where drivers can have full due process.
United and determined, coast to coast, from California to New York, across the Americas to Europe, to Africa, we will strike on Wednesday, May 8th to send a message to Uber, Lyft, Via and Juno and their Wall Street overlords that drivers are not expendable and nor are we powerless.
Uber and Lyft filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission, and analyst reports all tell the same story: Uber/Lyft are lining up around investor demands to cut driver pay and incentives/bonuses, cut down on the number drivers, and focus on driverless cars.
As reported in Money.com:
“Uber says it plans to cut back on driver incentives — bonuses to complete extra trips during a week or during peak hours — to save money. It will also continue to withhold employment protections like minimum wage, Social Security contributions, and other benefits from its hundreds of thousands of drivers worldwide. As a result, Uber acknowledges that drivers will grow less happy in their roles.
In particular, as we aim to reduce driver incentives to improve our financial performance, we expect driver dissatisfaction will generally increase,” the company said in its filing last week.”
Uber/Lyft IPOs are aimed at making billionaires of Uber and Lyft bosses while drivers struggle in poverty and the companies destroy the livelihoods of drivers in every sector. In NYC, we lost nine of our driver brothers to suicide due to economic despair borne from the Uber/Lyft business model of over-saturation of cars and low rates. There have been driver suicides across the world: Taiwan, Australia, South Africa, India. After all the tragedies, the companies are headed toward making things worse not better.
We rise up today to demand a business model where workers are respected and not left in poverty, debt, and in despair. We rise up to demonstrate our collective power and to send a message: we will not be silenced and we will not be divided.
CBS New York
Good Morning America
New York Daily News May 3rd
NY Daily News May 5th
New York Post
New York Times
Yahoo Finance May 8th
Yahoo Finance May 10th