Uber and Lyft leaving Minneapolis?: Mayor pushes for compromise

Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey is pushing for a compromise as a vote on a renewed ordinance that would give a pay raise to Uber and Lyft drivers – as both ride-hail companies are threatening to leave the city if the ordinance becomes law.

The Minneapolis City Council is set to consider the new legislation during a meeting on Thursday. If approved, the ordinance would require ride-hail companies to pay drivers working in Minneapolis $1.40 per mile and 51 cents per minute or $5 per ride – which ever is greater.

Mayor Frey said on Wednesday he supports fair pay for ride-hail drivers, including doubling the rate of pay for drivers, but says the current ordinance pushes things too far.

"The council wants to take that pay even further, to a rate where Uber and Lyft would effectively leave the city," explained Frey. "Not only would that not do any good for the drivers, because it doesn't do any good to get a pay raise when you don't have a job, but it's also very problematic for residents of our city and tourists."

Frey further pointed to the importance ride-hail apps play for people with disabilities and those who can't afford a car.

Last year, a similar ridehail ordinance was passed with seven votes versus five "nays" and one absent. Frey vetoed the bill and an effort to override the veto came up short.

Two of the council members who didn't vote for last year's measure, Andrew Johnson and Lisa Goodman, have been replaced by Katie Cashman (Ward 7) and Aurin Chowdhury (Ward 12). Both Cashman and Chowdhury approved the ordinance during a committee vote last month.

If the council holds last year's "ay" votes and adds Cashman and Chowdhury, that would give the ordinance a nine-vote, veto-proof majority. Frey is hoping council members rethink the ordinance and choose to compromise.

"I have concerns that the ordinance that is being brought forward lacks balance and could potentially result in Uber and Lyft leaving the city entirely," Frey added. "Now, we may have the votes to be able to sustain a veto override. We may not get overridden. Thus, of course, keeping Uber and Lyft in the city but that would not result in drivers getting the necessary bump in pay that I think we all support."

The Minneapolis City Council meets Thursday morning.