Make Uber Worker Coop; Congestion Pricing

Make Uber Worker Coop; Congestion Pricing

For immediate release: August 7 , 2018

Hawkins: Solve Uber / Transit Crisis with Congestion Pricing; Temporary Cap; Worker Cooperative for Ride-Sharing; Financial Relief for Taxi Drivers, Increased Funding for MTA

Howie Hawkins, the Green Party candidate for Governor, said New York needed to adopt outside-the-box solutions to its transit crisis. The City Council may vote this Wednesday to impose a temporary cap on ride-sharing services such as Uber.

“An effective transit system should be a key driver of the New York City economy. We need a Governor who is serious about fixing the subway system so they run on time with efficient service and affordable rates. We also need to address the congestion and pollution that grips much of Lower and Midtown Manhattan. And we need to provide a fair, living wage to taxi drivers and other for-hire ride services,” said Hawkins.

Hawkins noted that as the subway system deteriorates, more people are forced to turn to ride-sharing services, thus reducing revenues for the subways.

Hawkins says that while he supports a temporary cap on the number of ride-service drivers and cars, NYC needs more fundamental changes.

Hawkins, who has been endorsed by a number of socialist organizations, said the city should adopt a regulation limiting ride-sharing to worker cooperatives.

“Uber and Lyft claim they don’t hire drivers as workers. The workers are the ones providing the capital – the cars – for the business. So let Uber and Lyft operate the smartphone apps for hailing rides and processing payments, and the drivers can join into a worker cooperative to set fair wages and compensation. Driver cooperatives can negotiate with the app companies on the prices paid for their services,” stated Hawkins. Right now, Uber dictates the terms of employment, taking a 20% cut on all rides.

Hawkins said measures must be taken to provide financial relief to independent taxi cab drivers who have lost their investment in medallions and are struggling to keep their heads above water. The City should take up Uber and Lyft’s offer to create (at least) a $100 million fund to help the taxi drivers. The City should also impose minimum wages and other compensation for those engaged in ride-sharing services as they transition to a worker cooperative.

Hawkins said he supports the “earnings standard for app-based drivers” outlined in the recent report by economists James Parrott of the New School’s Center for New York City Affairs and Michael Reich of the University of California, Berkeley.

Hawkins said the city needs to recognize the need for additional transit services in the outer boroughs (including buses) and to be more aggressive in prosecuting racial discrimination by cab and ride-share drivers. He noted that the proposed cap will not reduce for customers the current number of for-hire drivers, the majority of whom are immigrants of color and 85% of whom are now making less than the minimum wage due to excess supply.

“The first step in fixing the subways is an immediate infusion of money for repairs and maintenance. This means tens of billions of dollars short-term and a hundred billion long-term. We need to tax the wealthy; expand Cuomo’s limited Penn Station proposal to recapture the increase in land values from subway expansion and other public investments; and enact a robust congestion pricing system. The state should stop rebating the Stock Transfer Tax to Wall Street speculators and instead invest it in the subway and other infrastructure improvements including public housing,” said Hawkins.

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