Uber Drivers Applaud New NYC Rules

August 9, 2018

By Amanda Weston and Bridgette Webb

New York City's decision to institute a minimum wage for drivers of ride-hailing apps like Uber and Lyft, will be a boon for drivers, and may prompt other cities considering how to handle the rise of for-hire vehicles to act similarly.

"It's a very big win ー huge," said Aziz Bah, a steward for the Independent Drivers Guild and an Uber driver. "We have been fighting for the longest [time]."

The City Council approved a package of rules Wednesday that included a guaranteed minimum wage for drivers and a one-year cap on most new licenses, so the city can study the effects of the industry's explosive growth.

"The most positive thing for drivers is the pay floor, which amounts to a 22.5 percent raise in overall take home pay," Bah said Thursday in an interview with Cheddar.

Uber opposed the Council's rules, saying it would make rides less reliable and more expensive. Bah said the new rules should be a clear message to the ride-hailing companies.

"Treat drivers better," he said. "Because no one is making any legislation or rules with the drivers' livelihood in mind. We want these guys to finally put the drivers first."

The popularity of the wage guarantee among drivers and the willingness of a city the size of New York to act may embolden other cities, said Alison Griswold, a reporter at Quartz.

"[Seattle] passed legislation that allowed drivers to unionize, which is still tied up in litigation, and there's also been interest among the city officials for raising the wage for Uber drivers," Griswold said Thursday in an interview with Cheddar. "So, you could see a city like Seattle picking up what New York has done on setting a wage floor. Then in San Francisco there's a lot of talk about congestion and how things have gotten worse for just everyone in the city driving around."

It remains to be seen how the cap on new licenses will affect traffic.

"We'll just have to wait to see," said Griswold. "It was widely opposed by transit advocates and editorial boards across the city. It's for a year. And you know, with the subway the way it is, I think everyone wants as many transit options as possible."

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