Colorado bill aims to increase transparency for Uber, Lyft driver pay
A trio of Colorado Democrats want to make popular ride-hailing service apps more transparent for the people who rely on them for work by requiring disclosure on how much drivers actually earn for each ride and shedding light on an often-hazy deactivation process.
Senate Bill 23-98 would require that companies like Uber and Lyft, as well as popular delivery services, show customers and drivers how much of the payment for a ride goes to the driver and how much the company itself takes before the customer can give a tip.
Lawmakers say this change would allow drivers to be better informed about the trips and deliveries they take and increase awareness to consumers about where their money is going as rideshare costs increase in cities like Denver.
If the bill passes, those apps would be required to display those take rates, as well as ride destinations and offers made to other drivers for the same job.
“It’s about transparency. Companies would have to disclose the take rates to the drivers and customers before it happens. Sometimes that is not disclosed to a driver before we accept a ride,” said Brian Winkler, a driver for Uber Eats and organizer for Colorado Independent Drivers United, Communication Workers of America Local 7777.
Drivers and supporters of the measure rallied at the Capitol on Monday with Democratic bill sponsors Sen. Robert Rodriguez of Denver, Rep. Stephanie Vigil of Colorado Springs — who is the first gig-app worker to join the Legislature — and Rep. Jennifer Bacon of Denver.
“The bill will finally give us some insight into what gig workers are really earning and provide a process for drivers to challenge unfair or discriminatory terminations,” Rodriguez said in a statement. “When rideshare and delivery companies don’t provide information on fares, rates, or expenses to drivers, it’s not only taking resources from independent drivers and their families but from Colorado communities.”
Hamouda Ahmed has driven for Uber and Lyft for six years and said the quality of working for those companies has declined in recent years. For an $80 ride from downtown to the airport, for example, he said he might take home $19. That low payout, and unpredictability of driving for the apps, make it hard for Ahmed to plan for everyday life expenses.
“I’m working full time. Sometimes it is 12 hours, sometimes it is 14 hours (a day),” he said. “Uber makes drivers like slaves. You just cannot make the money.”
Recourse for deactivated drivers
The bill would also require companies to give more information to drivers who get deactivated from the platform and give them a better process to appeal the decision. It would give the company 10 days to let the affected driver know why they were deactivated and would allow drivers 180 days to seek a review of the deactivation by requesting a hearing with the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment.
“Currently, Uber and Lyft will deactivate drivers because of a complaint from a customer and not do a proper investigation,” Winkler said. “This leaves people extremely vulnerable. Lots of our drivers buy their car specifically to do this. When they get deactivated, they are left in limbo.”
That is what Uber driver Suliman Adam said happened to him. In 2018, a customer sent a complaint that Adam drove drunk. He said he had not. Last June, another customer made a similar complaint, which led to the permanent deactivation of his Uber account. He is now left with a $900 monthly car payment on the vehicle he purchased to drive for Uber.
“Every time I call Uber, they tell me there is not any way (to reactivate),” Adam said. “Every time I ask them how they only look at one side. How do you know that I was drinking?”
Lyft said they have already taken many of the bill’s provisions into consideration.
“Fair deactivations and pay transparency are important issues. That’s why we have an appeals process in place for when drivers feel they have been unfairly deactivated. We also introduced Upfront Pay in Colorado last year, so drivers could have more ride and earnings information ahead of accepting a ride,” Lyft spokesperson CJ Macklin wrote in an email.
Lyft also provides its drivers with a weekly summary of the number of rides, total earnings and total amount riders paid. The company argues that this encourages drivers to account for the larger picture of their work instead of individual rides. Spokespeople from both Lyft and Uber said they plan to engage with lawmakers and drivers about this legislation.Lyft says its policy is to investigate every safety report it receives. If a driver disagrees with a decision, they can ask for it to be reviewed.
“We look forward to engaging with lawmakers on these topics and exploring how to strengthen them further in a way that doesn’t inadvertently hurt our rider and driver communities,” Macklin wrote.
The bill was assigned to the Senate Business, Labor and Technology Committee and does not yet have a hearing date.