Uber's rough 2017 continued Tuesday with the revelation the company has underpaid New York City drivers for two-and-a-half years, according to a report in the Wall Street Journal. This is the second time over the last three months the company has admitted to underpaying drivers.
The ride-sharing behemoth has taken a larger share of driver wages in New York City than outlined in its November 2014 nationwide driver agreement. The company is supposed to take around 25 percent from drivers after taxes and fees are deducted. However, Uber has been calculating its commission based on full fares without subtracting taxes and an injury compensation fund fee.
Uber will voluntarily pay money back to drivers, reports the Journal. The refund will average around $900 per driver. New York City is one of the company's largest fleets. Based on driver numbers from the Independent Drivers Guild, the payouts could be in the tens of millions with some estimates putting the number as high as $40.5 million. Uber hasn't confirmed how much will be paid out in total.
“We made a mistake and we are committed to making it right by paying every driver every penny they are owed, plus interest, as quickly as possible,” Rachel Holt, regional general manager of Uber in the U.S. and Canada, said in a statement. “We are working hard to regain driver trust, and that means being transparent, sticking to our word, and making the Uber experience better from end to end.”
Uber wants to make amends, but drivers aren't necessarily thrilled. “Uber’s theft of drivers’ hard-earned wages is the latest in a long history of underhanded tactics in this industry," Jim Conigliaro Jr., founder of the ride-hailing drivers' group the Independent Drivers Guild, said in a statement.
"While we welcome progress in Uber acknowledging its unlawful deductions, make no mistake: the full amount that Uber owes to drivers is much more than what it is now claiming," Bhairavi Desai, the executive director of the New York Taxi Workers Alliance, said in a statement.
The ire of the Independent Drivers Guild and the New York Taxi Workers Alliance is a reminder that this can't be seen in a vacuum. Uber has recently been accused of sexism, tracking customers after they leave the car, spying on Lyft drivers, lax background checks, and tricking cops, among so many other incidents.
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