Minneapolis City Council overrides mayor’s veto of rideshare driver pay ordinance

Minneapolis City Council overrides mayor’s veto of rideshare driver pay ordinance

Minneapolis City Council overrides mayor’s veto of rideshare driver pay ordinance

An ordinance setting minimum pay requirements for rideshare drivers in Minneapolis has officially been approved.

Members of the Minneapolis City Council held a special meeting Thursday afternoon to consider Mayor Jacob Frey’s veto of the ordinance and overrode his veto.

The question now shifts to whether Uber and Lyft will follow through on their threats to leave the city.

“Our ability to overturn a veto was set up as a check and balance to prevent the Executive branch from blocking the will of the people,” Elliott Payne and Aisha Chughtai, the council’s president and vice president, respectively, said in a joint statement. “Our City Council is made up of a diverse set of members representing different communities from all parts of our city. Today, 10 Council Members, a more than three-fourths majority, came together to say this veto needs to be overturned so that all workers are paid the minimum wage in the City of Minneapolis, regardless of their profession. I hope this signals to the Mayor that he needs to put down his veto pen, roll up his sleeves, and start working with the City Council as we continue advancing legislation with near-unanimity.”

The ordinance, which is set to take effect in May, calls for the minimum pay to be $1.40 per mile and 51 cents per minute while drivers are in Minneapolis city limits. Council members say those rates best approximate the city’s $15.57 minimum wage, contrary to a state report that put those rates at 49 cents per minute and 89 cents per mile. The ordinance also includes a $5 minimum payment per trip and requires 80% of canceled ride fees to be paid to drivers.

“We have a lot of work to do between now and May 1,” Frey said after the council voted to override his veto.

The mayor again expressed concerns that the rideshare drivers will lose their jobs if Uber and Lyft leave the city and shared his frustration with the way the council crafted the ordinance.

“My frustration is that the data was wholly ignored … every attempt to work together and collaborate was also ignored,” Frey said.

As reported by 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS, the council approved the ordinance by a vote of 9-4 and Frey vetoed it the following day, saying he feels the plan is “out of balance” and will drive the rideshare companies out of town.

“I don’t care about their bottom line. I do care about having this service in the city, I do care about getting drivers paid more money, and I care that the service itself is affordable to people that need it,” Frey said after vetoing the measure.

Lyft has said throughout the process that it would be priced out of the market and forced to stop rides in Minneapolis if the ordinance takes effect, and Uber has also threatened to leave.

Both companies reaffirmed their plans to leave following the council’s vote to override Frey’s veto.

RELATED: Frey meets with Uber, Lyft drivers to discuss proposed rideshare ordinance

“We are disappointed the Council chose to ignore the data and kick Uber out of the Twin Cities, putting 10,000 people out of work and leaving many stranded,” Uber said in a statement. “But we know that by working together with all stakeholders – drivers, riders and state leaders – we can achieve comprehensive statewide legislation that guarantees drivers a fair minimum wage, protects their independence and keeps rideshare affordable.”

“This ordinance is deeply flawed, and the rates it sets are far higher than what the state’s study suggested,” a Lyft statement said. “We support a minimum earning standard for drivers, but it should be done in an honest way that keeps the service affordable for riders. This ordinance makes our operations unsustainable, and as a result, we are shutting down operations in Minneapolis when the law takes effect on May 1. We will continue to advocate for a statewide solution in Minnesota that balances the needs of riders and drivers and hope to return to Minneapolis as soon as possible.”

Uber says, when it leaves, this will be the only metro area in the country where it won’t operate.

A different company, Empower — which is currently available only in Washington, D.C., New York City and the Winston-Sale/Greensboro area of North Carolina — has said it will be available for drivers in Minneapolis if Uber and Lyft leave. The company’s model differs slightly from Uber and Lyft and lets drivers set their own rates.

Empower is happy that the Minneapolis City Council stood up against the pressure from Uber and Lyft and instead chose to stand with hard-working drivers. While we don’t believe Uber and Lyft will actually leave and let drivers work for themselves without a fight, Empower will make its software and services available to drivers in the Twin Cities on or before May 1, 2024,” Empower CEO Joshua Sear said.

State lawmakers continue to work on legislation that would cover rideshare drivers in the rest of the state, with that bill getting its first committee hearing earlier this week. However, it still has a long way to go and, even if it is ultimately approved, isn’t expected to override individual cities’ ordinances.