Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey vetoes rideshare bill

People speak in front of a podium.
It would take nine votes to override Mayor Jacob Frey's veto at the full council meeting next Thursday.  
Kerem Yücel | MPR News

Updated: 6:10 p.m.

Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey has vetoed an ordinance that would have raised pay and offered more protections to rideshare drivers. That sets the Minneapolis City Council up for a possible attempt to override the mayor’s veto on the ordinance, which passed last week 7-5. 

Frey told council members in a letter last week that he shared their concerns about drivers’ working conditions and pay but that he saw significant problems with how the ordinance was written. The council voted not to send the bill back to committee for more work.

After discussions with stakeholders including drivers and the rideshare companies, Frey said he concluded that “this ordinance needs more work.”

The proposal would have set a minimum compensation for drivers, which could have more than doubled pay rates. It also would have created a process for drivers to appeal a deactivation by a rideshare company and banned the use of gift cards, which drivers say are used to commit crimes against drivers. 

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It also would have created a drivers’ center in Minneapolis to educate drivers about their rights. 

Frey previously criticized the gift card ban, the process for appealing driver deactivation and the lack of funding for a drivers’ center. 

“What ultimately played a role in my decision was recognizing that we didn’t have all the data and information that we needed to understand the consequences of the decision we’re making — I don’t want to sign something just to find out a week later that there were problems with it,” Frey said. “What I’m proposing is: let’s do our homework, let’s do this right.”

The mayor said the city has negotiated a pay increase for Uber drivers working in Minneapolis. He said the company has committed to ensuring drivers are getting a minimum wage while driving in Minneapolis and that drivers will be paid a minimum of $5 per trip. 

The ordinance’s lead author Council Member Robin Wonsley called the mayor’s veto “an inexcusable betrayal.” Wonsley said Frey supported an increase in the city minimum wage as a council member, but “evidently he is ready to abandon any commitment to living wages or workers’ rights under the pressure of lobbying by multibillion-dollar out-of-state corporations.”

Wonsley vowed to fight on. 

“The drivers who have been organizing for this will continue to show up, because their livelihoods are on the line,” Wonsley said. “As long as I’m in City Hall, I’ll support their work and the rights and dignity of every worker in the city. 

It would take nine votes for the council to override the mayor’s veto. Wonsley said in an interview with MPR News that she is going to push to override it. 

Minnesota Uber/Lyft Driver Association President Eid Ali said he’s “disappointed” by the veto. 

“It was an opportunity for the mayor, the drivers as well, to do something positive, to do something that will help the hundreds, if not thousands, of family members that relied on this city ordinance,” Ali said.  

The ordinance was strongly opposed by Uber and Lyft, who both threatened cuts to service to the city if it was implemented. Lyft estimated that the ordinance could double the cost of ridesharing in the city. 

A similar piece of legislation passed both houses of the State Legislature but was vetoed by Gov. Tim Walz after threats from rideshare companies to cut services. Walz has established a working group made up of drivers, rideshare companies, riders and legislators to recommend policy changes at the state level. Those recommendations are due in January.