Uber, Lyft in Minneapolis: City Council proposes extension to rideshare ordinance implementation

A phone sits on a dashboard car mount
Rideshare driver Farhan Badel pulls up a job on the Lyft driver app on March 28.
Ben Hovland | MPR News

Updated 2:20 p.m.

The Minneapolis City Council is considering delaying its new policies for rideshare driver pay in an effort to better prepare for changes to the industry. But some council members say they'll propose a lower driver rate that’s more in line with a state recommendation.

As it stands, the council’s ordinance mandating higher pay is slated to go into effect May 1. Minneapolis City Council President Elliott Payne and council members Katie Cashman and Aurin Chowdhury announced Wednesday morning they'll introduce a measure to push that date to July 1.

Meanwhile, council members Andrea Jenkins and Emily Koski said Wednesday they plan to amend the ordinance to adjust the per mile rate for drivers to $1.21 per mile and .51 cents a minute, which is slightly above the comprehensive rate recommended in a recent report from the Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry. They said the city will evaluate the rates every six months.

The ordinance’s original authors, council members Jason Chavez, Robin Wonsley and Jamal Osman, said they’ll support the amendment to extend implementation of the ordinance until July, but they do not support reducing the rates paid to drivers.

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They’re also planning to propose an amendment to the ordinance that would require rideshare companies to give riders and drivers receipts showing pay and distance for each ride, as well as another amendment that would require rideshare companies to turn over data to the city regularly.

Payne said they’ve been meeting with colleagues at the state Capitol who are working on a statewide bill that would boost driver pay and require more employee protections.

“It’s just giving more room so the state Legislature can finish with their legislative cycle,” Payne said. “Additionally, it is offering a little bit more time for some of the new rideshare companies to finalize their licenses, and make sure they’re getting registered with the airport and making sure there’s time for that process as well.”

Uber said in a statement Wednesday that it would push back its departure to July. “The proposed delay gives us more time to continue to work with State leaders on a comprehensive statewide solution that raises pay across the state, protects flexibility and keeps rides affordable,” the company said.

Action is needed to reverse the trend where rideshare companies — which were originally reliant on venture capital funds — are pushing for profitability by squeezing drivers and raising fares, Payne said. The process is “actually accomplishing our goal of using local government to catalyze statewide action,” he said.

The council will vote on the extension Thursday.

Minneapolis Mayor Jacob said he’s “continuing to engage with stakeholders, including at the state level” and “we will see what happens tomorrow.”

Uber and Lyft stickers on a black car
Uber and Lyft stickers are prominently displayed on driver Farhan Badel’s Toyota Camry as he drives during a shift in Minneapolis on March 28.
Ben Hovland | MPR News

Three new rideshare companies have submitted applications to work in Minneapolis to fill the void if Uber and Lyft leave, according to the statement.

The release stated the extension is to ensure “limited disruption in the transition to new rideshare service companies and allowing the Minneapolis City Council to track discussions and continue ongoing collaborations with state officials in their work to craft a statewide policy.

“Supporters of an extension believe this will provide the needed time to allow new companies to be ready to serve the diverse communities who rely on these services while ensuring the largely immigrant workforce can live and work in dignity.”

The full statement from council members Payne, Cashman and Chowdhury reads:

“Uber and Lyft drivers are being paid a subminimum wage and that is fundamentally wrong and goes against our shared values. We passed this ordinance because the current rideshare system is broken, and we were shocked to see the way it is leading to exploitative labor practices. Inaction was not and is not a choice. This ordinance is one step forward in correcting this broken system.

“These changes will allow for any companies that want to work in the city and pay the fair wage time to set up in the event Uber and Lyft choose to leave Minneapolis instead of paying workers a living wage. We know that three new rideshare companies to date have submitted applications for Transportation Network Company licenses, and we want to ensure there is limited disruption in allowing these companies and others time to be up and running.

“This is a good faith extension for us as Council Members to work on our legislative process, collaborate with leaders in the state, ensure drivers have the fair compensation they need, and support emerging rideshare companies and riders adopting them. It is on Uber and Lyft to decide if they will treat their workers fairly, pay them adequately, or continue their egregious behavior in scaring the public with their threats to leave the people of Minneapolis behind.”