How much money do Uber and Lyft drivers make on each ride? Colorado Democrats want to show the math.
Colorado’s ride-hail drivers appear to be nearing a breaking point, frustrated by an opaque pricing algorithm that’s constantly changing and an adjudication system that gives them no explanation for why they might be barred from giving rides.
Now a trio of Democrats at the state Capitol want the big tech companies to show their math.
The Gig Work Transparency bill, introduced in the Senate on Monday, seeks to open the books for drivers and customers who use Uber, Lyft and other app-based delivery platforms. SB23-098 would mandate that tech companies show how much drivers earn on each ride and how much the business takes. The legislation would also require gig companies to give drivers more information related to wages, time worked and expenses.
And the bill would create a review mechanism through the state that would allow drivers to challenge deactivations and terminations.
“These companies make this promise: They’re offering you the chance to be your own boss and work for yourself, but they’re not giving you the information you need to make decisions,” said Rep. Stephanie Vigil, a Colorado Springs Democrat who this month became the first gig-app driver to join the state legislature. “That promise isn’t being realized. We’re seeking to bring some fulfillment to that offer into the law so these workers are actually protected.”
The proposed legislation wouldn’t cap how much ride-hailing or delivery companies like DoorDash could take for each trip, but it would allow drivers to make more informed decisions before they accept rides, bill sponsors say. Companies would have to disclose to drivers a rider’s location, the end destination and an estimate of both the fare’s cost and what the driver would be paid.
The bill — sponsored by Vigil and Sen. Robert Rodriguez and Rep. Jennifer Bacon, both of Denver — would also require the tech giants to provide the number of drivers who were already presented with that delivery offer and how much those drivers were offered.
Gig-app drivers told The Post earlier this month that take-home pay after expenses has become so little that they have had to take other jobs or drive more hours in order to make ends meet. Many Colorado drivers are immigrants who send money back to their families for medical expenses and schooling. Dozens of them turned off their apps in November for four hours, an abbreviated strike outside Denver International Airport designed to gain the attention of the companies and lawmakers.
“We are working like slaves,” said Hamouda Ahmed, a driver, during an introductory news conference Monday inside the Capitol.
Uber and Lyft representatives didn’t push back on many of these proposals, saying they looked forward to talking to lawmakers to make sure the changes don’t inadvertently hurt riders and drivers.
“We’ve long supported many of these ideas, and we look forward to working with lawmakers, unions and, most importantly, drivers on a proposal that benefits them without too many unintended consequences for riders,” Harry Hartfield, an Uber spokesperson, said in a statement.
CJ Macklin, a Lyft spokesperson, cited the company’s appeals process for drivers who feel they’ve been unfairly deactivated and an “Upfront Pay” initiative in Colorado that shows drivers ride details before they accept a gig.
“Fair deactivations and pay transparency are important issues,” he said in a statement.
Deactivations have been a central issue in the national Drivers’ Rights Movement, with advocates and unions saying they often disproportionately affect drivers of color. In most states, including Colorado, there’s currently no mechanism to appeal if a gig-app company takes a driver off the platform. Drivers told The Post that they sometimes have no idea why they were removed in the first place.
Under the proposed legislation, a company would be required to disclose to the driver within 10 days the basis for termination. Drivers, within 180 days, may also seek a review of the termination decision by filing a request for a hearing with the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment.
The review process echoes similar efforts in New York City and Canada that give drivers recourse in the event of deactivations.
Colorado’s push comes amid a broader fight for drivers’ rights across the country. In Massachusetts, lawmakers are considering significant new protections that would guarantee minimum wage, paid sick time and unemployment insurance. Minneapolis is looking at beefing up labor protections for drivers.
And Washington’s governor last year signed into law a minimum pay standard for Uber and Lyft drivers — the first state to implement earnings standards for ride-hail companies.
Drivers and advocates say it’s about time Colorado joins the fight.
“The name of the game is transparency,” Vigil said.
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