Minneapolis City Council signals willingness to adjust Uber and Lyft driver pay ordinance

The Minneapolis City Council sits at a long table
The Minneapolis City Council voted to override Mayor Jacob Frey’s veto on an ordinance that will raise pay and increase protections for drivers during a special meeting in the Minneapolis Public Service Center on March 14.
Ben Hovland | MPR News

Members of the Minneapolis City Council signaled Thursday they may be open to changes in its new rideshare driver pay ordinance. 

This comes as Uber and Lyft say they will leave the city when the ordinance goes into effect on May 1 and while state lawmakers are working on statewide solutions.

Council Member Andrea Jenkins introduced a notice to reconsider the ordinance and said it will allow the council another opportunity to come up with more solutions for drivers to meet minimum wage. 

Jenkins voted for the ordinance and voted to override the mayor Jacob Frey’s veto. 

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At Thursday’s meeting Jenkins said she doesn’t have any specific changes or an alternative to the current ordinance.

“I’m trying to create an off ramp that when this work comes to fruition, that we as a body can take action on it,” she said. That’s simply what this is. So no, I don’t have a plan. I am not a genius that has figured this out. I am willing to work with all of you to come up with that solution.”

In an interview with MPR News Jenkins said she’s committed to finding a solution that ensures drivers are making a minimum wage of $15.57. 

Some council members said they’ve heard concerns from constituents who rely on Uber and Lyft and would have a hard time if they left.

Council members also said they are looking for more Minneapolis-specific data. 

A report released earlier this month by the state’s Department of Labor and Industry (DLI) shows that on average drivers make less than the city’s minimum wage. However it wasn’t specific and separated regions by inside and outside the metro.

“There was an addendum that our staff did that indicated after looking at the DLI study that gas in the metro costs $441 more annually for the driver compared to the rest of the state,” said Council Member Aurin Chowdhury. “Indicating that we should investigate further. 

During Thursday’s meeting council members argued that they didn’t hear about Jenkins' notice to reconsider until they read about it in a press release. 

A few argued there was not enough transparency or cooperation among council members. 

However, council president Elliott Payne said he felt like the council was united on the most important issue. 

“We’re actually not divided or that we are a super majority united that workers deserve a minimum wage in the city of Minneapolis and that’s why we passed an ordinance to accomplish that. I think where the confusion is is how do you calculate that minimum wage for a really dynamic market,” he said. 

Payne went on to say that the city’s goal is to guarantee that drivers make a guaranteed minimum wage of $15.57 an hour, not an average wage.

Current data calculates the average wage per hour for drivers. The reconsideration is expected to be on the council’s agenda at its next meeting April 11.

Council members also expect to get city-specific data on April 15, and some of them say they’d like to wait until they get that information before the reconsideration vote. 

It’s still unclear what will happen on April 11.

In the meantime, legislators are in the process of finding a statewide solution and  multiple rideshare bills are being considered in the legislature.

Some are trying to find a way to increase pay for drivers and keep Uber and Lyft from leaving.

Council members say they are also in contact with state legislators who are working on that legislation. Some members say they don’t want the state to pass a law that cancels out the city’s ordinance. 

Rideshare companies Uber and Lyft say they plan to pull their services if the current ordinance goes into effect May 1st. 

Food delivery service Uber Eats confirms it will not go away if Uber does leave.