Minneapolis City Council committee hears testimony on rideshare worker protections

Minneapolis city council committee hears testimony on rideshare worker protections

Minneapolis city council committee hears testimony on rideshare worker protections

The Minneapolis Business, Inspections, Housing and Zoning Committee held a public hearing Tuesday on new plans to protect rideshare drivers. 

The city is considering a policy that will guarantee rideshare drivers a minimum of 51 cents per minute and a $1.40 per mile while a rider is in the vehicle. Drivers would also get 80% of canceled ride fees.

The policy also establishes policies and timelines for why and how a company can deactivate a driver. An amendment brought by Council Member Jason Chavez on Tuesday would also show riders how much of their payment goes to the driver.

The Minnesota Legislature passed a nearly identical proposal during this year’s session, but Gov. Tim Walz vetoed it after Uber threatened to pull out of the Greater Minnesota and only offer premium service in the Twin Cities metro.

Council members heard testimony from more than 20 speakers, most of whom were drivers for Uber or Lyft.

Several drivers shared instances of what they called unfair pay, such as a 13-mile fare that paid out less than $5 and a trip to the airport where the customer paid $60 but the driver only got $18.

Another said she fears retaliation for canceling trips that make her feel unsafe, whether that means interfacing with belligerent customers or picking up from a remote location.

Critics worried the ordinance would make hailing a ride too expensive for people who can’t drive or afford a car. They also argued that diminished demand could put rideshare drivers out of a job.

“If we lose significant riders, this bill will serve the opposite of its intention and we will make less,” one speaker said.

The amended measure passed the committee, and a full City Council vote could happen as soon as next week.

In a statement provided to 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS, a Lyft spokesman voiced opposition to the proposed ordinance, claiming it would force the company to raise prices and put its services out of reach for low-income customers and create undue safety hazards.

“The proposed ordinance will have detrimental effects on the industry that are contrary to the purported purpose of the ordinance,” Lyft Senior Public Policy Manager Brent Kent said. “It will actually reduce driver earnings as a result of plummeting ride volume, reduce the population of people able to use rideshare, and create unnecessary safety risks.”

An Uber spokesperson sent the following statement to 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS:

“Our goal remains unchanged: we want to work with drivers and local legislators on a compromise that raises rates for drivers without hurting riders. That’s why we’re proud to serve on the Governor’s Task Force and look forward to coming up with a framework for statewide legislation — which is how this issue should be handled, rather than a patchwork of different rules and regulations statewide.”