Based on information made public, the latest deal for special Uber/Lyft & co. deregulation in New York State is farther to the right than similar legislation in most other states. All progressive measures included in the earlier Assembly version of the bill appear to have been replaced with regressive measures like “Directing civil cases involving drivers or passengers to arbitration instead of the courts,” according to the Buffalo News – that means forced arbitration, seemingly straight out of the Trump playbook.
All we have are leaked media reports, because the deal is being rushed through by the Governor in his budget, behind closed doors, in the midnighthour. Meanwhile, there has been no public release of a financial impact study which looks at loss of tax revenue, increased enforcement and compliance costs, increased spending due to a reduction in available services such as accessible taxis, and the expected impact on public transportation usage and public subsidization.
This legislation also creates a special carve-out for Transportation Network Companies (TNCs) so that they will pay a lower sales tax than taxis and other for-hire-vehicles. This is pure corporate welfare won by Uber and Lyft at the expense of tax revenue that could fund our schools, our hospitals, and our public transportation networks.
Take action now to STOP ALBANY’S UBER-BOUGHT RIDE-HAILING BILL.
Call Assembly Speaker Carl E. Heastie now at 518-455-3791 and say:
Don’t let Governor Andrew Cuomo and the NYS Senate rush through a job-killing Uber-bought deal with forced arbitration, and no labor protections, no wheelchair accessibility, and no local control behind closed doors at the midnighthour. Table Upstate ride-hailing until after the budget so that it can be done in full view of the public.
Then call Governor Andrew Cuomo at 518-474-8390 and say:
No job-killing Uber-bought deal behind closed doors. Take Upstate ride-hailing out of the budget. Don’t destroy your legacy of raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour by creating thousands of new gigs that won’t be covered by minimum wage laws. No Upstate ride-hailing deal without worker protections, wheelchair accessibility, and local control. And no forced arbitration.
Tweet (copy and paste or write your own):
.@CarlHeastie: Don’t let @NYGovCuomo & @NYSenate rush @Uber-bought deal w no worker protections, wheelchair accessibility or local control.
.@NYGovCuomo: Remove the job-killing @Uber-bought deal from budget. Don’t reward a company that steals from drivers & pays below min wage.
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Albany has repeated that these new laws, so Uber, Lyft & other Wall Street financed cohorts can operate outside of existing law, are necessary so upstate can have what NYC has. Albany’s proclamations that upstate is getting the same service as NYC is a flat out lie. In New York City, Uber, Lyft, and their cohorts are regulated like licensed black car bases and drivers are licensed and regulated by the local Taxi and Limousine Commission. But this legislation seeks to exempt them from all taxi, black care, and for-hire-vehicle commercial regulations.
The tentative Uber-bought deal includes:
- Zero worker protections
- Zero wheelchair accessibility requirements
- Zero local control to regulate beyond minimalist state standards – either a locality accepts all or gets nothing
- Zero enforcement mechanisms to protect drivers against TNCs continuing to take the sales tax and injured workers fund surcharges out of driver pay, a violation NYC drivers are fighting in court to stop
- Zero fingerprinting
- Forced arbitration that would block drivers and passengers from standing up for their rights in court
Both the earlier Senate and Governor’s versions of the bill created special carve-outs for TNCs in New York State tax law by creating a “TNC Assessment fee.” Uber, Lyft, and other App-based dispatch companies are currently stealing from New York City drivers by unlawfully deducting sales tax from their pay. And Uber, Lyft & co.’s wage theft scheme could potentially be made legal Upstate if tax carve-out language from either of these versions of the bill end up in the final deal.
Cuomo and his Senate allies are pushing for a bill that is 100 percent paid for by Uber – putting the profits of a corporation with more lobbyists than Walmart ahead of the safety and wellbeing of communities, drivers, and passengers.
This bill will destroy the livelihoods of tens of thousands of professional drivers and will take us back to a time of sweated labor with thousands of new “gigs” that come with zero benefits and that don’t even guarantee our state’s minimum wage.
The bill should be tabled until it can be reviewed thoroughly after the budget, in full view of the public. If the Assembly lets itself get steamrolled by the Governor and the Senate, Upstate New Yorkers are in for a nightmare of unregulated services with no consumer protections and workers could be subject to state-sanctioned wage theft and sub-minimum-wage jobs.