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Home » Minnesota Democrats announce deal on minimum pay for Uber and Lyft drivers

Minnesota Democrats announce deal on minimum pay for Uber and Lyft drivers

by Koby John
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Gov. Tim Walz and DFL leaders of the House and Senate say they’ve struck a deal on minimum pay standards for Uber and Lyft drivers that will prevent the companies from making good on a pledge to leave parts of the state on July 1.

The agreement, announced at a Saturday evening news conference, preempts a recent ordinance from the Minneapolis City Council on pay standards and sets minimum rates statewide at $1.28 per mile and 31 cents per minute.

“No one else has been able to do this in the country,” Walz said in the hastily-scheduled news conference. “Minnesotans will be able to continue to use these services if they see fit.”

Democrats said the companies are on board with the deal, but Uber’s lobbyist did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Minnesota DFL leaders announced the deal on Uber/Lyft driver pay late Saturday.
Minnesota DFL leaders announced the deal on Uber/Lyft driver pay late Saturday.

Sen. Omar Fateh, DFL-Minneapolis, the lead sponsor of the bill, said after the announcement that it’s been “two long years” of work on the proposal.

Fateh, who had been missing from legislative action on Saturday, said he spent the day in negotiations with staff and DFL leaders to get the bill in the shape he wanted it to pass this session. The Senate, which is controlled by Democrats by a single vote, was in recess for 11 hours during the negotiations and all other work came to a standstill.

Legislators have a Sunday night deadline to pass legislation before they’re required to adjourn.

“Sometimes legislation like this takes a long time to negotiate,” Fateh said. “We spent the day, we got it right.”

The Minneapolis ordinance passed earlier this year would require a rate of $1.41 a mile and 51 cents a minute, or at least $5 minimum per ride. Those rates prompted Uber and Lyft to say they planned to leave the city as soon as the ordinance took effect.

Council members delayed implementation of their new rates from May 1 to July 1, giving legislators in St. Paul more time to negotiate a deal.

A study ordered by the state Department of Labor and Industry estimated that, for drivers in the Twin Cities metro area, it would take 89 cents per mile and 49 cents per minute to approximate the minimum wage, or $1.21 per mile to provide drivers with more benefits.

The range was higher for drivers in greater Minnesota, with the study’s suggested per-mile rate ranging from $1.16 to $1.40 because drivers tend to travel farther between fares.

Not all city council members were happy with the deal, including council vice president Aisha Chughtai, who posted to X Saturday that “preemption is bad. Period.”

“Any and all attempts to undermine local control are bad,” she continued. “It’s a Republican and corporate tactic used around the country. Watching our @GovTimWalz cave to multibillion dollar corporations in insisting on preempting Minneapolis is gross.”

The announcement comes with a little more than 24 hours left to pass bills during the legislative session. Democrats wouldn’t comment on the status of other outstanding legislation, including a sports betting bill and a statewide package of infrastructure projects.

Responding to the announcement, Republican legislative leaders said they continue to be cut out of the negotiations.

“We’ve been waiting around for ten-and-a-half hours in the Senate,” Senate Minority Leader Mark Johnson, R-East Grand Forks, said late Saturday. “Sen. Fateh and others were really holding up the work of the state and keeping Republicans in the dark on what’s going on.”

Johnson said they had to attend the press conference to learn the details of the deal on Uber and Lyft. He said bills that need bipartisan support are “jeopardized” in the final hours of session without collaboration.

Democratic leaders would not respond to questions about whether a special session would be needed to complete all their work.

Source: StarTribune

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