Winter 2023-24

Winning Fair Pay For Drivers In California - Our #1 Fight in 2024 

PLUS Partnering up on Transportation Principles with the Teamsters

By Nicole Moore, President RDU, Driver in Los Angeles

How do we win in California?

Well, Prop 22 is killing us now. For many of us our pay has sunk so low that we’re even receiving Prop 22 adjustments at the end of our pay period. All this means is that from ride to ride we are actually making LESS than the ridiculously low and blood-sucking pay floors of Prop 22 so they adjust our earnings to meet those low minimum standards.

Any day now - we’re being told it will happen sometime in 2024 - we’ll see a decision from the Supreme Court of California whether Prop 22 stays or overturns. Fingers crossed.

If it’s overturned, full labor rights are automatically returned to us through AB5. So, again we’ll be eligible for unemployment insurance, workers compensation, family leave, health insurance, expense reimbursement - as California Law mandates.

But what about pay? 

After AB5 came into law back in 2020, Uber & Lyft refused to follow the law with regards to pay (minimum wage for all time worked including wait time, overtime, paid sick time, etc.).So the state issued an injunction to demand they follow the law and the gig-companies threatened to leave California. It was a battle that ultimately was ended by the passage of Prop 22.

Once Prop 22 is overturned, enforcement of labor law in California would include a much better pay floor for us.  (look at how much we were owed when we based our wage claims to the California Labor Commission on the right to minimum wage and expenses!) But State’s hand may not be strong enough to enforce it immediately. For example, we filed wage claims based on labor rights pay floors in 2020 - and that is still in court, and the waiting game is not paying the bills.

In places where drivers are winning on pay, it’s because of strong pay regulation backed by labor laws. Look at New York City: with strong driver activism and a willing regulatory board (the Taxi and Limo Commission), they’ve established a pay floor that takes into consideration NYC minimum wage, average expenses to operate a vehicle, and average wait time. The companies are forced to follow their per mile/per minute rates - or they cannot operate.

So how do we do that here? 

  • We need strong, enforced regulation of pay rates, that are mandatory by state legislation

And how do we make that happen? 

  • With driver unity around those regulations
  • Unity among state labor unions 
  • Legislators that are ready to help by passing legislation to support driver rights.

And only after Prop 22 is overturned is this possible.

How are we moving this forward?

Building driver power: this will be a hard fight, and all of us need to move more and more of our driver colleagues into action by:

  • Joining RDU

  • Fighting together for smaller things so we know how to fight for the big things. Shout out to the Burbank TNC lot drivers who are fighting for sanitary conditions at the lot right now.

  • Building solid partnerships with labor unions (especially in the transportation sector) and inviting more unions to join us! 

We recently partnered with California Teamsters Local 856 because we share basic principles and will fight together to win for all drivers. Here are a few key principles we are fighting for: 

  • All transport workers deserve a democratic union;

  • All transport workers deserve full protections of labor rights; 

  • Regulation is key in transportation - to stop unsafe robotaxis from taking our jobs and in guaranteeing us wages that bring dignity to our profession.

To win this fight, we need more transportation workers to partner with us and fight alongside us – like Teamsters Local 856. We must also tell our stories to lawmakers and regulators so they know what is really happening on our streets and in our apps; we need educate them  from the workers point of view–not just the companies’.  We must also bring to their attention the risk of having bad laws like Prop 22 that degrade our profession and minimize the importance of what we do – safely transport people and packages – often finding ourselves in risky unsafe situations. We also know we’ll need to build our strength  through growing demonstrations and protests.

We can’t keep rideshare alive if the pay can’t keep us and our families alive. It has truly gotten ridiculous. But the path to maintain our labor rights while regulating pay is a path we’ve seen work in the US and other countries. It’s time for us to make it happen in California. See you soon at meetings to plan our fight, meetings to tell our stories to lawmakers, and demonstrations to show our growing strength. 

We are the drivers who are going to make this profession better for all of us - and we’re going to do it by fighting together!

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