Independent Drivers Guild
The Independent Drivers Guild is the largest rideshare driver organization in the nation, organizing for drivers’ rights, fair pay and better working conditions. We are Uber, Lyft, and Via workers united for a fair industry. Together, we’ve won landmark victories that put billions of dollars in drivers’ pockets.
The Independent Drivers Guild is a Machinists Union affiliate that advocates for more than 250,000 across NY, NJ, New England, and IL, including more than 80,000 for-hire vehicle drivers in New York City. We are driver-led and driver-powered. Our primary mission is to unite drivers to fight for the right to collectively bargain which is the only way to stop the exploitation and give drivers the power to negotiate better pay and working conditions.
Since 2016, the IDG has been leading the fight to empower drivers in advocating for a more fair industry, a livable wage, a safe working environment, and driver-friendly policies.
Through advocacy, direct action (including the largest U.S. gig worker protest to date), and a lot of perseverance, the IDG has achieved landmark victories for rideshare drivers:
- Tipping Option: When Uber entered the market, they believed that drivers did not deserve tips and did not even make it an option on their app. IDG fought to make it not only optional but mandatory for any app company that wants to operate in New York City
- $27.86/hr minimum wage: We quickly identified how underpaid drivers were, and we waged a fierce fight to make sure drivers would no longer suffer the usual rate cuts the app companies were accustomed to enforcing. The first in the world to do so, the IDG secured a minimum wage for drivers. This raised driver pay by $500,000 in the first six months compared to the prior year.
- Deactivation Appeals: Before the IDG, drivers had no recourse if they were removed from the apps and no way to communicate with the app management. Now, New York City Uber and Lyft drivers have the strongest appeal process in the U.S. We have helped thousands of drivers get their job back and continue to champion job security.
- New Benefits: We spent years advocating to secure more benefits for New York State drivers through The Black Car Fund, including free vision and dental benefits, a death benefit for the families of drivers killed on the road, and free access to a doctor via telemedicine, 24 hours per day, seven days per week. There are also discounts on prescriptions, diagnostic imaging, and urgent care.
- Drivers’ seat at the table: Taking on billion-dollar ride-hail companies to win better pay and improve working conditions is a challenge we can only win by working together. Thanks to your support, drivers now have a seat at the table to advocate for better working conditions as we continue to fight for full collective bargaining rights.
Understanding the pressing need to get assistance NOW, we strive to provide direct and quick relief for quality of life necessities, driver safety, and crucial services including but not limited to:
- Bathrooms: Prior to IDG, drivers at the various airport lots had no access to bathrooms. The health hazard was severe. Now drivers have access to fully equipped and functional bathrooms with running water at all NYC area airport waiting lots.
- Pandemic Safety: When the pandemic hit, we quickly advocated for financial assistance from the app companies for drivers who became sick or who were at high risk of severe disease. We assisted drivers in applying for this and other financial assistance. We also successfully advocated for a ban on pooled rides and for New York City to hire drivers who wished to work in food delivery.
- PPE: In the midst of the pandemic, IDG recognized quickly the inability of institutions to acquire and distribute PPE for the drivers. PPE supplies were scarce and over-priced. In partnership with The Black Car Fund, we filled the void and were able to pack and distribute over 20,000 PPE kits to all drivers, including FHV, livery, and taxi workers.
- Relief Stands: The non-existence of a space to park, step out of your vehicle, and stretch without getting a ticket was a dream for many FHV drivers. IDG advocated for FHV relief stands to allow drivers to legally park on designated spots. While relief stands have been added in the outer boroughs, we continue to see more in Manhattan’s central business district.
- Wellness: The stress and anxiety associated with driving are not to be ignored. We launched the nation’s first wellness program designed with and for professional drivers, which includes a team of licensed therapists providing free group, individual and family counseling in several languages.
- Education: For drivers that are deactivated for low ratings, the IDG provides a free class to help improve them driving skills and get their jobs back. In partnership with The Black Car Fund, New York drivers can take a free DDC class and get paid $300.
- IDG Legal: New York drivers enjoy discounts on legal assistance on tickets. We also interviewed legal experts for driver webinars on unemployment programs and loans during the pandemic.
After decades of organizing for-hire vehicle drivers in New York City, the Machinists Union helped New York drivers form the Independent Drivers Guild in 2016. Since that time, the Guild has grown from representing 60,000 drivers to advocating for more than 250,000 drivers across New York, New Jersey, New England, and now Illinois. The IDG is a non-profit worker advocacy organization.
Why did the Machinists Union start the IDG?
For many Americans, benefits like paid time off, health insurance and retirement plans are taken for granted. But in some industries, like the gig economy, workers are denied such benefits.
For twenty years, the Machinists Union (IAMAW District 15) has been a leading advocate for drivers in New York City, and to date is the only worker center to win representation for Black Car drivers. Drivers in the Black Car industry have long been classified as independent contractors and therefore typically denied employee benefits and protections like health insurance, workers’ compensation, and retirement benefits. So, drivers united with the Machinists Union to organize Elite Limousine in the late 1990s. This campaign led to a landmark decision that granted Elite’s independent contractors the right to organize and form a guild for the purpose of collective bargaining. As a result, the guild achieved the industry’s first pension and health benefits offered to Black Car drivers.
The Machinists also led the charge to create the New York Black Car Workers’ Compensation Fund that was created to assist drivers during their time of need. The Fund compensates injured drivers while they are hurt and unable to work. In addition, the Fund offers Defensive Driving and Health and Wellness courses that pay drivers up to $300 to attend. More information here.
Because of the changing industry spearheaded by Uber, many drivers who were previously represented by the IAMAW are now classified as app-based Black Car drivers. Those drivers were left with no seat at the table, no voice in the workplace, and no basic protections.
The Independent Drivers Guild is changing all that.
For over two years, drivers urged the Machinists Union to represent them to increase their earnings, benefits, and protections. In late 2015, the Machinists Union entered negotiations with Uber and announced the formation of the IDG in May of 2016.
The Independent Drivers Guild brings immediate protection, discounts on key benefits and much needed support to drivers—as well as a platform to further improve working conditions, earnings and benefits.
The International Association of Machinists & Aerospace Workers are the people moving North America.