MINNEAPOLIS, Minnesota — Rideshare drivers are speaking up and fighting for protections on the job. Minneapolis City Council is now involved.
Thursday morning, three city council members gave notice during the regular meeting that they plan to introduce an ordinance that would give rideshare drivers stronger protections around pay, safety and basic workers' rights.
"I want us to lead the country in ensuring that transportation and rideshare workers have the best protections and be a model for other cities to replicate," said Council Member Robin Wonsley, who is working alongside council members Jason Chavez and Jamal Osman on the issue.
There aren't many details yet on what the language of the ordinance could look like. Wonsley said they will be collaborating with Uber and Lyft drivers to come up with the "strongest ordinance possible" that expands their rights and wages.
"We are asking what we deserve to get. We are asking a fair shake," said Eid Ali, president of the Minnesota Uber/Lyft Drivers Association (MULDA).
Prior to the city council meeting, members of MULDA held a rally in the City Hall rotunda.
Abdullahi Abdi stood among other MULDA members wearing a shirt covered in blood stains. With Ali translating, Abdi said he was driving for Uber in 2021 when a rider physically assaulted him while trying to steal his phone.
"He hit me three times in my head," said Abdi, adding that he was also struck in the shoulder.
Abdi said he called 911 and an ambulance took him to the hospital. He said he went three months without working and received no wage loss benefits.
"I want everybody all the way to the White House to know what I'm going through," Abdi said.
Uber and Lyft drivers are classified as independent contractors.
"In almost any business you work for, whether it's Target or 3M, the company has the responsibility to provide the equipment for your job. Here, the drivers have to buy the cars. The drivers have to repair the cars," said Stephen Cooper, MULDA's attorney.
While Chavez, Osman and Wonsley work on their ordinance, Councilmember Andrew Johnson mentioned during Thursday's regular meeting that he's been working with city staff and those in the taxi cab industry to align taxi cab ordinances with the Transportation Network Companies (TNC) ones.
"We have more stringent rules and requirements around our taxi cab industry and we don't think that's fair," Johnson said. "We want them to play by the same rules as the TNC companies."
Uber Spokesperson Freddi Goldstein said in a statement to KARE 11, "It is our hope that we can work with drivers and local elected officials to deliver a package of benefits that improve the driver experience while maintaining flexibility, as we have done elsewhere. We look forward to reviewing the City Council's proposed policy."
A Lyft spokesperson also responded to KARE 11 with a statement:
"Lyft cares deeply about drivers and we work hard to ensure our platform offers valuable and flexible earning opportunities. In fact, drivers nationwide in Q3 were earning on average $35+ per utilized hour including tips and bonuses–reflecting a 7% increase since last year. Last year in Washington state, Lyft was proud to support landmark, first-in-the-nation legislation backed by labor organizations and signed into law with bipartisan support, preserving the flexibility workers in today's economy need, while ensuring new benefits and protections for drivers. We welcome an opportunity to engage with policymakers in Minnesota regarding policies to maintain the flexibility and independence drivers want while providing new benefits."