New York City Uber drivers won’t get a raise before the holidays after all. On Tuesday evening, a Manhattan Supreme Court justice granted Uber’s request for a temporary restraining order on drivers’ rate hikes scheduled to go into effect on December 19th. New York City’s Taxi and Limousine Commission (TLC) voted on the pay raise in November.
As part of the TLC’s new rules, Uber drivers’ per-minute rates would go up by 7.18 percent, and per-mile rates would increase by 16.11 percent. So, for example, a 7.5-mile trip taking 30 minutes would earn a driver at least $27.15 — $2.50 higher than the current rate. An inflation-based pay raise is also scheduled for March 2023.
Uber’s lawsuit suggests it would pass the extra costs onto riders while framing the worker raise as bad for business. It also claims the TLC’s hikes use flimsy calculations to lock in temporarily inflated gas prices. “Such a significant fare hike, right before the holidays, would irreparably damage Uber’s reputation, impair goodwill and risk permanent loss of business and customers,” the lawsuit said. In its response, TLC acknowledged that Uber charges 37 percent more today than in 2019, but it said the company is keeping money earned from fare hikes to itself rather than passing it on to drivers.
“This is a nasty stunt for Uber to pull on its drivers — especially right before the holidays. Even this would make Scrooge blush,” said Brendan Sexton, President of the Independent Drivers Guild, a Machinists Union affiliate representing the drivers. “While Uber has been recording record profits on its rideshare business, the drivers who make the service work have been stuck shouldering soaring expenses on their own. We fought hard to win this desperately needed increase to the minimum pay — and we will not let a billion dollar corporation snatch that victory from the 80,000 rideshare drivers who keep our city moving.”
The parties are due back in court on January 31st.