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Donna Blythe-Shaw Donna Blyt Donna Blythe-Shaw January 8 at 9:18pm · I wrote this letter to the Boston Globe Letter to the Editor December 15, 2016 with the hope that it would be published. I am continually dismayed by the City of Boston’s neglect for these invisible workers. When will the City and the BPD […]

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Uber drivers press city for wage guarantee
Independent Drivers Guild, seeking 40% pay hike, hands regulators 15,000 signatures
Matthew Flamm By Matthew Flamm
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Photo: Buck Ennis
Fresh from a victory on tipping, the group representing more than 60,000 Uber and Lyft drivers in New York City is asking that they get a raise.

The Independent Drivers Guild, which was founded with Uber's support but is sometimes at odds with the company, wants the Taxi and Limousine Commission to extend its regulatory hand to drivers' pay. On Tuesday it delivered a petition with more than 15,000 signatures asking the city agency to put pay schedules and compensation rules under its authority—and guarantee a minimum wage that drivers would earn while transporting passengers.

"[In] New York City, where nine in 10 drivers drive as their household's main source of income, our survey data shows that most drivers make less than minimum wage after expenses," the Guild wrote in its petition. Minimum wage in the city at businesses with 10 or more employees is $13 an hour.


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It goes on to ask that drivers for "standard class," or UberX, receive at least $1.65 per mile and 33 cents per minute. That's nearly 40% more than they make now; according to the IDG's research, UberX drivers are earning $1.18 per mile and 24 cents a minute.

The group also wants Uber's commission—the portion of the fare the company keeps for itself—limited to 20%, which is what Uber took before 2015. At that point it went up to 25%, but a year ago the company modified the formula. Drivers' pay remained the same, but Uber's share changed depending on what the passenger pays, which is determined by demand.

The guild's expectation is that if the city granted its request, passengers would pay about the same fare that they do now, because that is essentially determined by the marketplace. If that is true, its proposal, if granted, would essentially divert some of the companies' revenue to drivers.

A spokesman for Lyft disputed the group's findings. "On average, Lyft drivers in New York City earn more than $20 per hour," he said. "We look forward to working with the TLC to ensure a review based on facts and accuracy." He noted that Lyft was first among app-based services to include tipping. A spokeswoman for Uber noted that it has added fees and a tipping option that boost drivers earnings. "Uber is always working to improve the driver experience," she said. "We have regular meetings with the Independent Drivers Guild to listen to and discuss issues that matter most to them."

It is not clear that the Taxi and Limousine Commission has the authority to regulate commissions, but pay could fall within its jurisdiction.

"With the number of drivers we license having grown to more than 180,000, our agency is actively looking at how to provide income protection for all drivers and will review this petition in that light," TLC Commissioner Meera Joshi said in a statement
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