SAINT PAUL, Minn. - Thursday, the House of Representatives passed legislation to increase protections for drivers of technology network companies, commonly known as rideshare companies. These companies, such as Uber and Lyft, hire drivers as independent contractors. This leaves drivers responsible for both employer and employee taxes and expenses, exempts the company from providing benefits, and excludes drivers from many standard workplace protections. In addition to payout cuts, this has left most rideshare drivers earning less take-home pay than they did 10 years ago, despite the increase in rideshare popularity and inflation.
Representative Samakab Hussein (DFL-Saint Paul), co-author of the bill, released the following statement:
“Uber and Lyft drivers are essential workers who provide a valuable service to our communities. They work long hours, often for low pay, and they are at risk of being injured or killed on the job. Worker protections would help to ensure that Uber and Lyft drivers are treated fairly and that they have the resources they need to support themselves and their families. Offering protection would also help to improve the safety of drivers and passengers. These drivers deserve to be treated with dignity and respect, and they deserve to have the same rights and benefits as other workers. By increasing protections, we can help to ensure that all Uber/Lyft drivers in Minnesota have the opportunity to earn a fair wage and build a better life for themselves and their families.”
Those cost-cutting measures often come at the expense of workers who receive low wages and are often misled regarding their pay and their responsibilities as a driver with little recourse against the companies.
One study from the Economic Policy Institute found that nationally, a typical Uber driver earns $11.77 an hour without benefits. While estimates of technology network company driver incomes vary, there is general agreement that the roles often serve as supplementary income and not as primary employment.
Video of the House Floor debate can be found here.