Minnesota governor vetoes progressives bill that guaranteed wages for rideshare drivers

Minnesota governor vetoes progressives bill that guaranteed wages for rideshare drivers

Over the weekend, the Minnesota Senate successfully passed landmark legislation that would create a base pay model for gig workers contracted with ridesharing companies like Lyft and Uber. While similar bills have been installed in cities like Seattle and New York City, this would be the first state-wide mandate of its kind.

Because they are classified as “independent contractors,” such workers are not considered employees and are thus not subjected to the same kinds of regulations, guarantees and protections of laborers defined as employees.

The bill, House File 2369, compels the ridesharing giants to pay drivers $1.45 for every mile and $0.34 for every minute driven with a passenger. The mileage aspect of the wage goes down to $1.34 per mile when drivers are not in the Twin Cities.

Ridesharing companies have generated massive amounts of revenue on the backs of thousands of cab drivers who often live at or near the poverty level threshold while working exhausting hours.

HF 2369 was sponsored by Sen. Omar Fateh (DFL-Minneapolis) and Rep. Hodan Hassan (DFL-Minneapolis). Both politicians represent large immigrant and working-class populations that rely on rideshare employment to make ends meet.

“These workers deserve a livable wage to provide for themselves and their families. Uber and Lyft don’t pay for any of the resources for the workers. Drivers use the little pay they get to pay for their car maintenance, gas, insurance and other functions before they are able to put food on the table,” Fateh said in a statement to Heartland Signal.

“These workers are responsible for the billions of dollars in revenue for Uber and Lyft. Without their labor, that would not be possible. It is our moral obligation to ensure that they get fair compensation for their labor, in addition to worker protections that are in the bill," he concluded.

Unsurprisingly, Uber and Lyft expressed strong opposition to amendments that would damage their exploitative business model.

"Fair pay for drivers is an important topic, but it needs to be done in a way that doesn't jeopardize the service for the majority of Minnesotans," Lyft said in a statement.

Uber made similar remarks: “For months, we have begged legislators to work with us on a compromise that raises rates for drivers without hurting riders, and for months our pleas were ignored. We hope Governor [Tim] Walz will reject this bill.”

Upon its passage in the Minnesota Senate, a cadre of cab drivers lifted Fateh onto their shoulders and celebrated. For once, worker power had trumped corporate interest.

However, Walz shot down the bill by issuing his first veto ever as governor. He also announced an executive order creating a committee which would investigate “solutions that balance the interests of all parties, including drivers and riders."

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Jamie Larson