LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — City Council President Herb Wesson proposed Tuesday that drivers working for rideshare services such as Uber and Lyft in Los Angeles be paid a minimum of $30 per hour.
Wesson said he proposed the idea because drivers were not being paid enough. He called the action, “one of the most significant rebukes” of the gig-economy by a local government.
“The flexibility that a ridesharing gig provides should not serve as an excuse for short-changing these drivers,” Wesson said. “Earning less than $10 per hour in Los Angeles simply won’t cut it. If these companies want to operate in Los Angeles, they need to compensate their workers fairly.”
Last year, the Economic Policy Institute found that the average employee equivalent wage for Uber drivers — after expenses, fees and taxes — was $9.21 per hour. According to Wesson’s office, a study by the University of California Los Angeles Labor Center found that nearly one in five rideshare drivers in Los Angeles received some form of public assistance and 44% struggled to pay for work expenses.
Wesson’s proposal would require rideshare companies to pay drivers $30 per hour — $15 for wages and $15 for operating expenses such as gas, insurance and routine vehicle maintenance. The motion was co-presented by council members Nury Martinez, Paul Koretz and Curren Price.
“While ridesharing services like Uber and Lyft are creating safer mobility options for our residents, their business model is not aligned with our city’s deep-rooted values and weakens the city’s social safety net set up to protect the most vulnerable members of our community,” Wesson said.
According to the Los Angeles Department of Transportation, about 250,000 rideshare drivers across the city completed nearly 9 million rides in 2018.
In a statement, Lyft said the company has been advocating at the state level for rideshare drivers to earn at least 34% above minimum wage plus expense reimbursements.
“Lyft supports providing drivers a guaranteed wage floor,” Lauren Alexander, of Lyft, said. “We continue to hold discussions at the state level, because we believe a statewide approach is most appropriate. We look forward to ongoing work with policymakers on a structure that will allow us and Lyft drivers to achieve our shared goals.”
According to the company, Lyft drivers in California have seen average earnings increase 6.4% in the past two years — with drivers, on average, making more than $31 per hour they’re booked.
Wesson’s proposal did not include taxi drivers since they have different wage scales and revenue-sharing agreements among local taxi cab companies, but a spokesperson from his office said, as long as it did not delay the proposal, the office would be happy to add traditional taxis to its study.
Wesson’s proposal will be discussed by the council’s Economic Development Committee in the coming weeks.
(© Copyright 2019 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. City News Service contributed to this report.)