Dear Friends,


Chances are, you've seen the Uber propaganda attacking the Mayor and City Council Members for supporting an environmental study on the impact of the growing number of black cars (For-Hire-Vehicles or "FHVs") and a limited moratorium on the issuance of new FHV vehicle licenses. Uber is using their billions to distort the truth and undermine this necessary legislation.  Our members need this law to survive; we need your support to make it happen.  


How You Can Help:

  • Join us for a Taxi Workers & Allies Press Conference on MONDAY, July 20th at 1:00pm on the Steps of City Hall
  • Call your City Council Member and ask them to stand up for public policy and face down corporate bullying and smear campaigns. (Uber has been running massive advertising on TV, print, online and radio; created "De Blasio mode" on their App mocking the Mayor; sending out direct mailers to constituents of Council Members who have publicly opposed the bills - oh, but don't call that lobbying!)

  • Please forward this message to friends and family and spread the word!


Why the Legislation is Needed:


There has been a 66% increase in the number of black cars since 2011. Most of these new cars are affiliated with Uber which begins 72% of its trips in the central business district of Manhattan. Unlike traditional black cars which book in zones, and give 15 minutes to arrive for a fare pick-up, on-demand Apps function the same as taxis - immediately. To get the fare, drivers have to cruise. So we basically have 40,000 taxis and Uber cars all cruising in the same stretch of space for a limited number of fares.


Imagine if the city announced releasing 19,000 more taxis onto the streets overnight. Imagine your reaction and imagine the drivers'. That's the reality we face today.


Drivers are earning less and working longer, some days earning below the minimum wage. Right now, after 12-hour shifts, with no overtime pay, taxi drivers make $10-12 an hour in take home pay. More traffic and more cars competing for the same fares will drive incomes deeper into poverty levels.


Others with whom we share the roads and bridges are also affected: speeds for all vehicles is down from 9.35 MPH to 8.51 MPH; MTA Bus speed is slower by 5%. More cars idling in Manhattan traffic means more pollution.


Cities like San Francisco are now paying a high price for not limiting the number of Uber cars. In 2012, SF was not among the 25 most polluted US Cities. In 2015 SF has reached 7th place on year-round particle pollution and 6th place for short-term.  SF now ranks as the second most congested US city.


The number of yellow medallion taxis and green cabs is capped by city and state law and intense study is required to issue more licenses; black cars should be similarly regulated.


Uber's Propaganda War:


Uber - a $50 billion company with more paid lobbyists than Wal-Mart - is crying victim to "taxi interests" and claiming that the moratorium would "kill 10,000 good jobs." This same company is fighting a recent finding of employee status for an Uber driver seeking to have her fuel expenses reimbursed, is placing editorials ridiculing the National Labor Relations Act and state laws that would classify Uber's workers as employees, and is leading the development on driverless cars to remove workers from its business model entirely.


When asked what he would say to Uber drivers who stood to lose their jobs from driverless cars, Uber CEO Travis Kalanick said, "Look, this is the way of the world and the world isn't always great." When called out on this at the 6/30/15 City Council hearing, Uber's response was that at least a driver can make a grocery payment for now.


In its "disruption" playbook, meanwhile, Uber tells drivers to pick up illegally as a way to overwhelm local enforcement and break down regulators, and promise to pay the fines. Drivers desperate for work risk time in jail and for immigrants, loss of naturalized citizenship, while brand Uber claims innovation. Drivers are used and discarded.


51% percent of Uber drivers nationwide work 5-15 hours a week, driving to supplement income from their full-time jobs.  Under Ubernomics, taxi driving income is recast as supplemental income, justifying low-wages and unending competition between drivers on the streets.


Uber's model across the country - and what they are lobbying for in Albany - is to carve out specialized laws for App-based dispatching companies to explicitly exempt them from commercial vehicle insurance requirements in case of collisions, vehicle inspections, government-run driver security background checks, and hallmark federal laws such as the Americans with Disabilities Act which requires accessible transportation service and Labor Laws.


Uber seeks to decimate the regulated taxi industry and replace it with a transportation monopoly of no consumer protections and no full-time work for drivers. For Uber, drivers aren't just Independent Contractors, they, quite frankly, are not workers at all. Why tip, or require commercial insurance or registration, or comply under federal or state transportation or labor laws when this is "just a side thing." Low Uber fares - when they are not price surging - are aimed at out-competing taxis and justified by calling the income supplemental. Taxis aren't the only target, as they also aim their sights on dismantling public transportation, by proclaiming to be cheaper than buses in Chicago and LA and faster than an ambulance. If they gain a monopoly, the purpose of low fares will have been served and price surging will be the norm. We have already seen this when taxis and public transit are scarce - from Hurricane Sandy to a hostage crisis in Australia to the recent mass transport strike in London where Uber raised fares by 300%.  


Uber also propagates the lie that their aim is "minority recruitment" and its service focuses on the outer boroughs.  Again, 72% of Uber trips are in the central business district of Manhattan. When drivers say business is slow, Uber instructs them to go out to Manhattan. Nationwide, less than 50% of Uber drivers are people of color.  Less than 20% are African-American.  Contrast that against the New York taxi industry, which is 94% immigrant with large communities of African and Caribbean drivers.  The truth is, Uber's business model targets taxi work because they believe a workforce of predominantly people of color could not defend ourselves. New York's immigrant and communities of color need good jobs that provide a livable income; what we don't need is a fast track to deeper poverty.


As leaders of the Black Institute, NYC Communities for Change, and Make the Road urged, it's an underhanded, self-serving "race strategy," and we as a city should not tolerate it. 


NYTWA has members who drive mostly yellow taxis, as well as green cab drivers and Uber drivers.  The one sentiment which runs through all sectors of drivers is that the shifts are longer and the pay is less. If you can't move fast enough to finish a fare, then you can't pick up the next job.  For taxi drivers stuck in traffic, the meter stops rolling, but the clock keeps ticking down the limited hours that drivers have to pay off $130-$190 in pre-shift expenses before earning for themselves. All drivers know the numbers are getting tighter, and if unregulated competition doesn't get under control, the numbers just won't add up to a wage where families can survive.


Stand with us. Join us on Monday and please call your Council Member. The proposed study and limited moratorium on new vehicles is common-sense and with every passing day, urgently needed.


In Solidarity,

Bhairavi Desai 
Executive Director, 
New York Taxi Workers Alliance