Uber and Lyft drivers in Minneapolis consider co-op launch

The local union is looking to join the Drivers’ Cooperative after the ride-share platforms threatened to leave the city over a minimum wage hike

Taxi drivers in Minneapolis could form a co-op after ride-hailed platforms Uber and Lyft threatened to leave the city over a new minimum wage.

A new local ordinance in the Minnesota city has imposed a minimum wage of $1.40 per mile and 51 cents per minute for drivers. Uber and Lyft say this is not sustainable and have vowed to pull out of the city on 1 May.

“We support a minimum earning standard for drivers, but it should be done in an honest way that keeps the service affordable for riders,” said a Lyft spokesperson.

And CNN has reported an Uber statement, saying it is disappointed the council chose to ignore the data and kick Uber out of the Twin Cities, putting 10,000 people out of work and leaving many stranded”.

But the drivers, who say current rates do not provide a living wage, are remaining defiant, and are considering joining the Drivers’ Cooperative, launched in New York City in 2020.

“Basically, if Uber and Lyft want to leave, they’re OK to leave because we have choices now,” said Marianna Brown, vice-president of the Minnesota Uber/Lyft Drivers Association. “We’re not going to be intimidated, we’re not going to be threatened by them.”

The union has been busy recruiting drivers to the co-op, with a message on X on 1 April saying “We’ve achieved our initial milestones for driver sign-ups. Now, we kindly ask riders to complete their sign-up process.”

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Also working to recruit members is the Drivers’ Cooperative itself – which is also looking to launch its Coop Ride platform in Denver, Colorado.

Organiser Eric Forman told Lakes Area Radio on 30 March: “We just started today, and I think so far 200 drivers have signed up, so we’re hoping that number keeps increasing in the next few days. But we also need riders. So we’re calling on the people of Minnesota – get involved. This is going to be your company, make it happen.”

Driver recruitment is not the only challenge: the city of Minnesota also levies a fee of nearly $50,000 fee for ride-share services, and there are state requirements for liability and driver background checks.

Among those supporting the scheme is city councillor Robin Wonsley, who posted on X: “Minnesota has a century-long history of worker co-ops to break monopoly power … we have an opportunity to create a model for communities across the country to stand up to Uber and Lyft’s exploitative practices.”