Rideshare drivers in New York may be eligible to receive significant back pay from Uber and Lyft as part of a $328 million settlement announced by the state attorney general on Thursday.
Andrew Wolf is an assistant professor at Cornell University’s School of Industrial & Labor Relations, where his research focuses on labor markets in the gig economy. He said the settlement is emblematic of how gig companies have historically shifted all the risks for employment onto drivers.
Wolf says: “They took taxes which should have been born by the customers—and therefore the companies’ profits—and took them out of wages. It is similar to how their independent contractor model seeks to deny drivers labor and employment rights such as unemployment insurance, workers compensation and the right to organize. This settlement would not have been possible without the tireless and heroic organizing efforts of the New York Taxi Workers Alliance pushing against and documenting these abuses.
“James' settlement is remarkable because it not only makes the drivers whole for the wages stolen from them but secures a statewide right to a minimum wage and provides paid sick benefits. The companies are all but formally acknowledging that these drivers are in fact their employees who deserve the employment rights all other workers deserve.”