Fight Back! News

News and Views from the People's Struggle

Uber and Lyft drivers win minimum wage in Minneapolis

By staff

Rideshare drivers celebrate after the Minneapolis city council passes minimum wage for drivers. | Fight Back! News/staff

Minneapolis, MN – On March 7 the Minneapolis city council passed an ordinance forcing rideshare corporations like Uber and Lyft to pay their drivers the equivalent of the city’s minimum wage of $15.57 an hour if they want to continue to operate in the city.

The ordinance passed with a 9 to 4 vote, which is enough to override Mayor Jacob Frey’s promised veto. Frey repeats the propaganda of Uber and Lyft corporate leaders, who threatened to leave Minneapolis if the city passed a minimum wage for their drivers.

The Minneapolis city council passed the same ordinance last year, but it was vetoed by the mayor, and at the time there were not enough votes on the city council to override his veto. But in this new council term, there are.

Members of the Minnesota Uber Lyft Drivers Association (MULDA) once again mobilized dozens of mostly East African drivers to the meeting, as they have done for city council meetings where this ordinance is discussed for over a year.

After long discussion on several amendments, the city council approved the ordinance. MULDA members celebrated outside the council chamber after it passed, together with the three council members who authored the ordinance. City Councilmember Jason Chavez, a co-author of the ordinance, said, “Small businesses are required to pay minimum wages before tips, and it’s clear that billion dollar out-of-state tech companies should be too,” The minimum wage ordinance will go into effect on May 1.

Gig economy companies like Uber and Lyft have raked in billions of dollars by classifying their workers as “independent contractors” to sidestep minimum wage and worker protection laws. These companies routinely blackmail cities by threatening to leave if cities try to put in place the most barebones protections for their drivers. Now that the Minneapolis city council has called their bluff, it remains to be seen if Uber and Lyft will actually pull up stakes from Minneapolis.

Drivers fighting for a minimum wage in Minneapolis weren’t worried about the companies’ threats to leave. These companies have only been in Minnesota for about a decade. Before they were here, many of the drivers worked for taxi companies. If they go away, other companies and apps, possibly including driver-run cooperatives like the one drivers formed in New York City, will fill the void. MULDA President Eid Ali said their next step will be trying again to get a minimum wage and protections for rideshare drivers statewide at the legislature.

#MinneapolisMN #Labor #UberLyft