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Minneapolis City Council considers new ordinance requiring minimum wages for rideshare drivers

Minneapolis City Council revives effort to require minimum wage for rideshare drivers
Minneapolis City Council revives effort to require minimum wage for rideshare drivers 02:06

MINNEAPOLIS — A Minneapolis City Council committee on Tuesday advanced a proposal that would guarantee minimum pay for rideshare drivers — a revived effort after Mayor Jacob Frey vetoed a similar measure last summer.

Under the plan, drivers would be paid $1.40 per mile and $0.51 per minute while transporting passengers and would make no less than $5 per ride. They would also keep 80% of fees for any canceled requests for service.

Dozens of drivers packed a meeting of the Business, Housing & Zoning Committee on Tuesday, telling council members how they struggle to make ends meet as gas prices and inflation have increased in recent years. Some shared screenshots of their take-home pay showing they make less than half the cost of a ride billed to customers. 

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"Uber and Lyft see us as cheap labor. That should not be tolerated in the city of Minneapolis. All we ask is for fair compensation," said Farhan Badel, a rideshare driver. "We're ambassadors of convenience, safety and efficiency. All we're asking for is for the city council members to do what's right."

Representatives for Uber and Lyft in statements to WCCO warned the companies would cease operations in Minneapolis if the ordinance passes and it could threaten services in the entire state. 

The proposal mirrors language that Frey vetoed last summer, but without rules about when drivers are "deactivated" or kicked off the platform because of policy violations or criminal convictions. The new ordinance would take effect April 1 if it receives the full council's approval.

"In the past few weeks alone, we have announced several new steps to improve driver earnings and transparency. This includes just this month announcing a new earnings commitment where drivers will always make at least 70% of the weekly rider fares after external fees. This is how we can improve driver earnings in a smart and deliberate way," said CJ Macklin, a spokesman for Lyft. "The Council's proposed bill, however, ignores economic reality. It pushes the same egregious mandates that were vetoed by the Mayor last year, and it could make rides on Lyft too expensive for too many."

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Gov. Tim Walz also vetoed a push by the state legislature for statewide pay minimums. Uber at the time said the legislation would increase costs to customers by 30%.

Uber in its statement said it looks forward to working with state lawmakers and the governor's task force on the issue to find statewide solutions this session.  

"The proposed rates mean much higher prices for riders and less work and pay for drivers. After a period of near record inflation there aren't many governments out there whose big idea is to make things more expensive," a spokesman said in an email. "We have numerous concerns with the proposal, which would force us to cease operating a transportation network company."

Washington state and New York City have passed their own pay minimums and other protections for rideshare drivers. Marianna Brown told the committee she drove for Uber in New York for six years, and asked the council to consider similar regulations in Minneapolis.

"Sometimes you don't even want to take the trip and we're sorry and most passengers will complain but if you have to drive 30 miles to pick up someone to make $5, if you do the math, it's not worth it," she said. 

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