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Uber rallies Minneapolis riders to demand action from lawmakers on minimum wage rule

Uber is asking riders to email Minnesota lawmakers to pass comprehensive statewide legislation to boost driver earnings so they can bring ride-share services back to Minneapolis.

EXCLUSIVE: Uber is calling on riders to urge Minnesota lawmakers to pass statewide legislation that would pave the way for the return of ride-share services in Minneapolis and neighboring communities.

"Tell state lawmakers to #BringRidesBack and pass comprehensive statewide legislation that raises drivers’ earnings, protects their flexibility, and keeps ridesharing affordable," Camiel Irving, Uber's head of U.S. and Canada rides, wrote in a Wednesday email to riders about the company's plans to cease operations in Minneapolis, as well as at Minneapolis–St. Paul International Airport, in May. 


The email told riders to email lawmakers in order to "bring rides back now."

Both Uber and Lyft vowed to shut down operations when the city council's new driver pay ordinance takes effect on May 1. Uber said the ordinance would "drastically" increase the cost of ride-share services to "some of the highest in the nation, and force other changes" to its app.

"We know that this decision will have a huge negative effect on the Twin Cities," the email, seen by FOX Business, said. "It will strand people looking to get to work, to school, or to the airport. It will take away a transportation option for people trying to make a safe choice after a night out. And it will put thousands of drivers out of work."

The ordinance establishes minimum driver pay of $1.40 per mile and $0.51 per minute, or a minimum of $5 per trip, whichever is greater. The city council's goal over the past 18 months has been to ensure that driver rates are equivalent to the local minimum wage, which rose to $15.57 per hour in January.

The city council voted 10-3 last week to override Mayor Jacob Frey's veto. Frey vetoed the vote over concerns that the companies would leave.

Council Member Jamal Osman, a co-author on the policy, said in a statement that the vote underscored how the city council would not let communities "be exploited for cheap labor."

While Uber says it shares the goal of setting minimum earnings for drivers, the company argued that the city council arbitrarily set rates so high that "operating in Minneapolis is no longer tenable."


Similarly, Lyft CEO David Risher told FOX Business earlier this month that while he understands the city council's concerns, increasing pay for drivers beyond what the market can bear will lead to higher costs for riders, who will eventually opt out of using the service altogether.

In a notice sent to Lyft riders and drivers last week, the company said the "drastic drop in rides means the thousands of drivers who rely on Lyft for earnings would ultimately make less, creating an unsustainable situation for our customers."

In the Wednesday email, Uber stated that the rates set by the city council are 60% higher than what the state's Labor Department determined was necessary in a recent report.

According to the department's report, $0.49 per minute and $0.89 per mile would ensure drivers earn minimum wage. 


Uber previously said it supports "comprehensive statewide legislation that guarantees drivers $35/hr minimum earnings while working and protects their flexibility and independence" and that if this ordinance is enacted it will work with "drivers, riders and the legislature to bring rideshare back." 

Like Uber, Lyft plans "to advocate for rideshare policies in Minnesota that create sustainable solutions that work for both drivers and riders."  

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