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Uber Locks Out NYC Drivers, Blames Pay Rule

ByHuey Yee Ong

Jun 27, 2024

Uber Locks Out NYC Drivers, Blames Pay Rule

Uber has begun locking New York City drivers out of its app during low-demand periods, while Lyft is threatening to follow suit. This action has been ongoing for the past month, with the companies attributing their behavior to a New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission (TLC) rule, as reported by Bloomberg.

This rule, established six years ago, mandates that ride-sharing companies compensate drivers for idle time between fares. The rule limits how long drivers without passengers can be paid, which reduces costs for companies but also significantly lowers driver earnings for the same amount of work. Drivers are unable to predict when they will lose access to the app, adding to their frustration.

How Are Drivers Affected?

Full-time Uber driver Nikoloz Tsulukidze expressed his disappointment, noting that his earnings have dropped significantly despite working the same hours. This sentiment is echoed by many drivers who are struggling to cover their expenses due to the unpredictable lockouts.

Drivers’ unions, including the New York Taxi Workers Alliance, criticize Uber’s over-hiring practices and accuse the company of manipulating the TLC rule to avoid paying drivers fairly.

Responses from Uber and Lyft

Uber and Lyft are using the TLC rule to shift blame and encourage drivers to lobby against the regulation. Uber’s spokesperson, Freddi Goldstein, argues that the rule disproportionately affects Uber due to its busier driver base, while Lyft’s spokesperson, CJ Macklin, claims the formula forces companies to limit driver earnings.

A drivers’ union has criticized Uber’s hiring practices, blaming the company’s over-hiring for the current predicament. Bhairavi Desai, president of the New York Taxi Workers Alliance, accused Uber of “mismanaged” hiring and “gaming the system” by using the TLC rule to avoid paying drivers. Desai warned that the union might consider striking if the lockouts continue, emphasizing the unfair burden placed on drivers.

Although Lyft has not yet started locking out drivers, its communications suggest it may soon adopt similar practices. The ongoing issue in New York City is part of a larger pattern of conflicts between ride-sharing companies and city regulations across the country. Previous incidents include Uber and Lyft’s lockouts in 2019 in response to a flat minimum wage requirement and their recent threats to exit Minneapolis over proposed driver pay raises.

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Featured Image courtesy of Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Huey Yee Ong

Hello, from one tech geek to another. Not your beloved TechCrunch writer, but a writer with an avid interest in the fast-paced tech scenes and all the latest tech mojo. I bring with me a unique take towards tech with a honed applied psychology perspective to make tech news digestible. In other words, I deliver tech news that is easy to read.

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