Politics and Government

Walz vetoes bill adding protections for Uber, Lyft drivers

a group of people hold signs that read governor please sign driver's bill
Uber and Lyft drivers have been at the Minnesota Capitol for weeks urging the Legislature to pass and the governor to sign a bill that would set a minimum wage for drivers and a system for them to be reinstated if they have been suspended.
Matthew Alvarez | MPR News

Updated: 5:03 p.m.

Gov. Tim Walz on Thursday vetoed a bill adding a new set of protections for drivers that work for ride-hailing services like Uber and Lyft after Uber threatened to pull its services from Greater Minnesota and surge prices in the Twin Cities.

Walz said he’d issued an executive order establishing a committee to consider new protections for the drivers, and he said they would work on legislation to pass next year.

“Rideshare drivers deserve fair wages and safe working conditions. I am committed to finding solutions that balance the interests of all parties, including drivers and riders,” Walz said in a release. “This is not the right bill to achieve these goals. I have spent my career fighting for workers, and I will continue to work with drivers, riders and rideshare companies to address the concerns that this bill sought to address.” 

It was the first bill Walz has vetoed since becoming governor in 2019. 

The proposal would have set minimum payment levels for drivers and required that more of the amount collected in fees for a late pickup or cancellation be directed toward drivers. It would also have required clearer rules about why a driver could be deactivated, provide notice in writing if a driver was up for deactivation and give that driver a chance to appeal before removing them from the app.

Sen. Omar Fateh, DFL-Minneapolis, carried the bill in the Senate and said on Twitter the governor's office hadn't done enough engagement work with drivers before vetoing the bill.

“Today, we saw the power corporations hold on our government despite the trifecta," Fateh said. "The fight is not over, and I promise you I wont back down. This will be my top priority going in to next session. I need you all more than ever.”

Drivers told lawmakers that they’d faced harassment and violence while driving and had little recourse. They also said ride hailing apps pocket most of the profit for rides, even though drivers pay for their own cars, gas and vehicle maintenance.

For more than a week, dozens of Uber and Lyft drivers marched through the Capitol in an effort to convince state lawmakers and the governor to enact the changes.

The drivers were gone shortly after Walz announced the veto, but Uber issued a comment.

“While it was always our goal to pass comprehensive legislation this session that would raise rates for drivers while providing them the flexibility and benefits they tell us they want, that is not the bill we ended up with,” said Uber spokesperson Freddi Goldstein. “We appreciate the opportunity to work together to get this right and hope the legislature quickly passes a compromise in February.”

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