NY IDG Fought for and Won 8.8% Wage Increase for New York Uber and Lyft Drivers

16 Mar 2023

TLC approves rideshare driver wage increases

By Joseph Konig and Nia Clark

PUBLISHED 7:30 PM ET Mar. 08, 2023

After a series of strikes by rideshare drivers, the New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission voted Wednesday to increase drivers’ wages to about $2.26 more per trip than they earned in January 2022.

The raise comes out to roughly 8.8% compared to January 2022, combining an almost 6.4% increase that went into effect in February and the just over 2.3% increase that passed Wednesday.

The new rates will go into effect on March 13, the TLC said on Twitter, posting a photo of Commissioner David Do celebrating the raise with drivers.

In a statement, Bhairavi Desai, the influential leader of the New York Taxi Workers Alliance — a union of cabbies and rideshare drivers that has earned significant victories in recent years amid a growing financial crisis in the industry — said “drivers held the line on the raises they desperately need to recover from an inflation crisis that left families having to choose between gassing up and groceries – a choice forced on them by Uber and Lyft greed.”

“Today, after three successful strikes, we get to celebrate knowing we took back a raise that belonged to the drivers and did it by reminding the companies that drivers are organized and can defeat them,” Desai added.

Some Uber and Lyft drivers participated in strikes in recent months, including outside Uber’s Manhattan headquarters in January and at LaGuardia Airport in February. The strikes came as Uber sued the city to prevent wage increases, citing additional costs of $21 to $23 million a month.

According to the TLC, the proposal Uber sued to stop in December would have increased the minimum per-minute rate for rideshare drivers 7.42% and the minimum per-mile rate by 23.93%, or an increase of up to $2.50 per 7.5-mile ride.

“The roughly 2.25% per ride pay increase is more reasonable than what was previously proposed,” an Uber spokesperson said in a statement after the vote.

Lyft also issued a statement after the vote, which read, “The TLC’s proposal includes changes that will ensure fairer competition within our industry. We are appreciative of them listening to our concerns and look forward to continued engagement on ways we can improve rideshare overall.”

The Lyft spokesperson claimed the company did not see major effects on wait times or service levels during the airport strike in February.

In February, Uber reported company-wide revenue of $8.6 billion in 2022, a 49% increase from the previous year. The same month, Lyft reported $4.1 billion in company-wide revenue in 2022, a 28% increase from 2021.

The TLC said they made several considerations when deciding on the policy, including the fact that 85% of drivers were earning less than the equivalent of the $15 minimum wage and 40% of drivers had incomes so low they qualified for Medicaid. Another 18% qualified for federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits.

“Drivers shouldn’t have had to fight so hard for the raise they were due. Already, they’ve lost $80 million in income since grinch Uber blocked the raise on the eve of Christmas,” Desai said in the statement. “That $80 million in stolen raises lined the pockets of corporate executives instead of filling the plates of working-class families who paid every dime for every operating expense to keep service going for 700,000 riders a day during the worst of times with a post-pandemic slow recovery followed by crushing inflation.”

Desai and her union are now calling for better protections for drivers from being removed from the apps and for driver take home pay, after expenses and taxes, to be increased to at least $25 an hour.

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