The Lead

Philly Dem floats plan for minimum wage for Uber, Lyft drivers

By: - July 29, 2019 11:20 am

Gov. Tom Wolf’s plan to boost the state’s minimum wage for all Pennsylvanians hit a brick wall during this spring’s budget debate.

So a Democratic state lawmaker from Philadelphia is taking a slightly different approach to raising the wage for some workers.

Last week, state Rep. Maria Donatucci began looking for cosponsors for her emerging plan to pay a minimum wage to “transportation network drivers.” In case you’re wondering, that’s the jargon-y name for the Uber or Lyft driver who gave you a ride home from the bar or the airport not too long ago.

These independent contractors “are receiving ever-decreasing pay rates while the companies that employ them take in billions … these drivers are responsible for paying the maintenance on their vehicles, cleaning their vehicles, and fuel costs. As policymakers, we must always ensure workers receive fair pay for fair work,” Donatucci wrote.

In her ‘Dear Colleague’ memo, Donatucci wrote that her bill “will ensure [ride-hailing] drivers are compensated fairly for the hours they work, as well as the burden they bear in expenses for maintaining their vehicles.
The legislation “requires the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission and the Department of Labor & Industry to conduct studies and analysis of rides and rates of compensation. The Department of Labor & Industry would later establish a minimum rate of pay for [these] drivers in the Commonwealth,” she wrote.

Last year, the New York Taxi and Limousine Commission imposed a minimum wage policy for ride-hailing drivers that will pay them $17.22 an hour, or $27.86 an hour before expenses, CNN reported.

The raise is the “ride-hailing equivalent of a $15 minimum wage, accounting for the fact that drivers have to cover payroll taxes and don’t get paid time off,” CNN reported, citing the commission.

Lyft, and the lesser-known service Juno, separately sued to block the law’s implementation, claiming it would unfairly advantage Uber, according to CNN. In May, a New York judge rejected the legal challenge, according to Business Insider.

Our stories may be republished online or in print under Creative Commons license CC BY-NC-ND 4.0. We ask that you edit only for style or to shorten, provide proper attribution and link to our web site. Please see our republishing guidelines for use of photos and graphics.

John L. Micek

A three-decade veteran of the news business, John L. Micek is the Pennsylvania Capital-Star's former Editor-in-Chief.