City Council President Herb Wesson proposed Tuesday that drivers working in Los Angeles for ride-hailing services such as Uber and Lyft be paid a minimum of $30 an hour.
Wesson proposed the idea because he said drivers are not paid enough, and he called the action “one of the most significant rebukes” of the gig-economy by a local government.
“The flexibility that a ridesharing gig provides should not serve as an excuse for short-changing these drivers,” Wesson said. “Earning less than $10 per hour in Los Angeles simply won’t cut it. If these companies want to operate in Los Angeles, they need to compensate their workers fairly.”
Wesson’s proposal would require the companies to pay drivers a $15-per- hour wage, along with $15 an hour for operating expenses like gas, insurance and basic wear-and-tear on a driver’s vehicle.
The motion was co-presented by council members Nury Martinez, Paul Koretz and Curren Price.
Last year, the Economic Policy Institute found that the average employee equivalent wage for Uber drivers after expenses, fees and taxes is $9.21 an hour. According to Wesson’s office, a study by the UCLA Labor Center concluded that nearly one in five ride-hailing drivers in Los Angeles receive some form of public assistance and 44% struggle to pay for work expenses.
According to the city’s Department of Transportation, about 250,000 ride-hailing drivers across Los Angeles completed nearly 9 million rides in 2018.
“While ridesharing services like Uber and Lyft are creating safer mobility options for our residents, their business model is not aligned with our city’s deep-rooted values and weakens the city’s social safety net set up to protect the most vulnerable members of our community,” Wesson said.
Lyft issued a statement saying the company has been advocating at the state level for ride-hailing service drivers to earn at least 32% above minimum wage, plus expense reimbursements.
“Lyft supports providing drivers a guaranteed wage floor,” said Lauren Alexander of Lyft. “We continue to hold discussions at the state level, because we believe a statewide approach is most appropriate. We look forward to ongoing work with policymakers on a structure that will allow us and Lyft drivers to achieve our shared goals.”
According to Lyft, its California drivers’ average earnings increased 6.4% in the last two years, and drivers now make on average more than $31 per hour they’re booked.
Wesson’s proposal does not include taxi drivers because they have different wage scales and there are revenue-sharing agreements among the local taxi cab companies.
“We are happy to consider having the consultant study (taxis) as well, as long as we move forward in a timely manner with a meaningful livable wage,” said Michael Tonetti, Wesson’s communications deputy.
Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a bill recently that will make it more difficult for ride-hailing companies to classify their drivers as independent contractors, making them eligible for benefits and other protections.
Wesson’s proposal will be heard by the council’s Economic Development Committee, where it is expected to be discussed in the coming weeks.
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