On Uber and Lyft Drivers’ Protest at New York City Hall

Following is a statement from Catherine Ruckelshaus, general counsel and program director with the National Employment Law Project:

“NELP stands with Uber and Lyft drivers in New York City who are planning to shut down their apps on Wednesday to protest the most recent unilateral 15 percent slashing of driver fares by Uber and Lyft.

“On the heels of Uber’s drastic 20 percent fare cut in 2014 and its commission increase to 25 percent—all the while recruiting new drivers with teaser rates and time-limited promises—Uber and Lyft drivers simply cannot make ends meet. Many full-time drivers earn less than the minimum wage.

“Uber’s bait-and-switch tactics to lure in drivers and then change the job terms is unfair and unjust. These workers do not have any say about the most basic elements of their job; the companies change the pay and the deductions taken, and impose mandatory arbitration provisions that prohibit the drivers from group challenges to these take-it-or-leave-it arrangements.

“The drivers, supported by the New York Taxi Workers Alliance, have had enough. On Wednesday, they will stop working and demand that Uber and Lyft reverse the latest rate cuts immediately.

“The companies’ one-sided deals are also undermining the taxi industry. There are more Uber cars than yellow taxis on the roads in New York City. Yellow and green cab and livery drivers are forced to compete with bottom-feeding Uber and Lyft, whose predatory subpar pricing cannot sustain regular full-time workers.

“Because the companies call their drivers ‘independent contractors,’ they are skirting employment and labor protections that most workers take for granted, like minimum wage and overtime, workers’ compensation, and unemployment insurance. Simply labeling the workers ‘independent contractors’ doesn’t make it true; given the degree of control exerted by Uber, adjudicators are finding the drivers are in fact ‘employees’ under the law. But Uber is banking on the forced one-by-one worker arbitration ‘agreements’ to slow down anyone who tries to come between it and its profits, and undermine the gains made in New York by organized taxi workers.  Already, Uber drivers in New York City outnumber yellow cab drivers.

“It’s time to end the special treatment for Uber and Lyft, and bring the workers and the industry into compliance with baseline workplace and consumer standards. A race to the bottom is bad for everyone.”



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