State legislators recently gave Uber drivers a lift — passing a bill to protect their wages. But the legislation has drawn criticism from various ride-sharing companies.
Last Tuesday, the state legislature’s Labor and Public Employees Committee voted in favor of legislation that requires ride-sharing companies, such as Lyft, Uber and Via, to pay their drivers at least 75 percent of the total amount of money they collect from passengers on any given day. The bill will now advance to the full state House and Senate for a final vote.
“If this bill passed, it … would also make it significantly harder for people in CT to hail an Uber,” Harry Hartfield, a spokesperson for Uber, told the News. “There’s a reason no other city or state in the entire country has passed a bill like this.”
More than a hundred people came to the hearing last week in Hartford, which began on Tuesday morning and ended late on Thursday night.
On March 7, Uber submitted a written testimony to the committee stating their opposition to the bill. The company stressed that Connecticut already requires ride-sharing drivers to have bodily injury coverage limits of at least $1 million, which is currently paid for by the companies they work for.
Kaelan Richards, a spokesperson for Lyft — a major ride-sharing company in competition with Uber — noted that commission-based pay will hurt certain customers and drivers by stifling business. According to Richards, Lyft’s “dynamic” pricing ensures that their service is just as available to people in low-density pick-up areas as it is in busy commercial districts, and that 60 percent of Lyft rides in Connecticut start or end in low-income areas.
While some representatives such as Rep. Joe Polletta, R-Watertown, agreed with Uber’s position during Tuesday’s hearing, other legislators indicated support for the legislation. State Representative and chair of the committee Robyn Porter, D-New Haven, argued that the bill would promote fairness for drivers and ride-sharing companies.
“I don’t think that people that provide a profit for companies should be treated in a way that doesn’t coincide or commiserate with the profits that the companies are receiving,” Porter said at the hearing. “There should be equity.”
Because drivers for ride-sharing companies work as independent contractors — rather than full-time employees — they are exempt from federal labor protection laws and the state’s minimum wage, which is just over 10 dollars an hour.
This past December, New York State passed a minimum pay ordinance that set a minimum wage of $17.22 an hour for app-based drivers. Several hours of last week’s hearing were spent deliberating a proposal to increase the state’s minimum wage to $15 per hour.
Uber was founded in 2009 and filed for its initial public offering in 2018.
Caroline Moore | email@example.com