Minneapolis City Council approves rideshare ordinance after Frey calls for more time
The Minneapolis City Council has approved an ordinance that is aimed at adding protections for rideshare drivers, despite the mayor calling for more time.
Thursday morning, the council voted 7-5 to approve the ordinance, which will now head to the mayor for his signature or veto. Many rideshare drivers were in attendance, applauding any comments that urged passage and ultimately celebrating the final vote.
The move came the day after Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey sent a letter to council leaders, saying more debate is needed before the city makes a decision.
“This ordinance stands to significantly impact our city in terms of worker protections, public safety, disability rights, and transportation mode shift goals. . . . From the feedback we gathered, it is clear that we must allow more time for deliberation,” Frey’s letter says in part. “We need both additional data and conversations to be had to ensure the essential safety and well-being of rideshare drivers and riders alike.”
The mayor added in the letter that he supports higher wages and better protections for rideshare drivers and also favors provisions to improve pricing transparency. However, Frey said there are other things to consider before implementing any measures.
Frey cited the benefits of waiting to implement anything until the governor’s workgroup delivers recommendations in January, noted deactivation protections are good in some instances but could affect rider safety in other situations, highlighted the need for effective enforcement mechanisms and pointed to additional benefits like sick and safe time that should be debated.
At Thursday morning’s meeting, the council had an extensive debate over the ordinance, with council members Robin Wonsley, Jamal Osman and Jason Chavez — the three authors of the ordinance — urging their colleagues to pass the measure, saying there isn’t any reason to wait for the state and delay the benefits for the drivers.
Those who voted against it noted they also support improved pay and protections for drivers but felt it was prudent to take more time to carefully consider everything before approving the measure.
Council member Andrew Johnson specifically noted the mayor could veto the measure and — if the council falls short of nine votes to override the veto, which would seem likely — the measure wouldn’t just get sent back to committee but, rather, the entire process would have to start over and the measure would have to be different from the current one, meaning it could end up delaying implementation further than simply delaying a vote would’ve.
Ally Peters, a spokesperson for Frey, sent the following statement to 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS after the council’s vote:
“As the mayor laid out in his letter to the City Council yesterday, he supports drivers being paid more. However, he has deep concerns with how the ordinance is written and the impact it will have. He needs time to review the ordinance and the amendments made to it.”
Uber and Lyft say they could pull services from Minneapolis if the measure is approved. The ordinance aims to guarantee drivers get paid more for each ride, but the companies say that also means rides in Minneapolis will be more expensive for passengers. The new policy would mean any driver with a ride originating in Minneapolis would make $15 an hour, which is the city’s minimum wage.
The policy would also guarantee rideshare drivers get at least $0.51 per minute and $1.40 per mile, and would guarantee drivers get 80% of canceled ride fees as well as have more protections against deactivation.
Two amendments also passed by the council Thursday would guarantee at least $1.81 per mile for drivers in wheelchair-accessible vehicles and require the deactivation protections to be considered before any deactivation is applied unless it’s a major public safety risk.
The proposal is very similar to a bill passed by state lawmakers this spring, but it was ultimately vetoed by Governor Tim Walz after rideshare companies threatened to halt services outside of the metro area. The governor then created a workgroup to study the issue.
Those same rideshare companies now want the city council to pump the brakes and are making similar threats.
On Wednesday, Lyft representatives said they will stop services in Minneapolis by next year.
Meanwhile, Uber says if the policy goes forward today, the company said it would “Unfortunately have no choice but to greatly reduce service, and possibly shut down operations entirely.”
One rideshare driver spoke during the city’s Business, Inspections, Housing and Zoning Committee last week, saying “Took a gentleman from downtown Minneapolis to the airport a couple of days ago for 60 bucks, I was paid 18 dollars, is that fair? No. I’m providing the vehicle, I’m providing the gas. Drivers cannot pay their rent, drivers get their lights turned off, and can’t pay for food for their family.”
If signed by Frey, the ordinance would take effect Jan. 1, 2024.
Lyft issued the following statement Thursday afternoon:
“This bill has been jammed through the Council in less than a month with little consideration for its consequences. If it becomes law, drivers would ultimately earn less because prices could double and only the most wealthy could still afford a ride. We support a minimum earning standard for drivers, but it should be part of a broader statewide solution that also protects driver independence. That’s why we urge Mayor Frey to veto this bill and instead allow time for the state’s rideshare task force to complete its research.”
Uber provided this statement:
“We are disappointed by the results of today’s vote and the overall process in Minneapolis. We are determining next steps.”