Uber, a company that is now valued over $60 billion conducted a well funded lobbying campaign last year to defeat Mayor de Blasio’s effort to cap the number of Uber cars in the city.
The lobbying highlighted the number of minority Uber drivers in the city: “The company held a total of nine “driver appreciation” events in the city from May to September 2015, during and after the mayor’s push for his cap proposal.
“Over the last year we have held driver-partner events in neighborhoods across the city,” said Matt Wing, a spokesman for Uber. “We invited elected officials to all of these events because we wanted them to hear directly from drivers who live in the communities they represent.” (http://www.capitalnewyork.com/article/city-hall/2016/05/8598443/emails-show-ubers-cultivation-council-fight-de-blasio)
But in promoting the number of ”driver partners,” Uber was engaging in a massive effort at misdirection—one that astute elected officials should have been able to see through.
The reality is that NYC has thousands of predominately immigrant medallion owners—small business men and women, whose jobs and lifetime investments in the taxi industry are being put at risk by the unregulated proliferation of the Uber predator.
No one begrudges a new business setting up in New York so long as they play by the rules and regulations established by the city to protect drivers, the public and people who invested in an industry. It should be pointed out to every elected official that the taxi industry exists because as a creation of the city itself. All of those New Yorkers who invested in it did so because their investment was backed by the full credit of city government.
As New Yorkers for Equal Transportation Access spokesperson Brad Gerstman points out: “Uber is a $60 billion dollar multi-national corporate invader with no roots in NYC and absolutely no concern for what’s best for the people who live in this city. If they want to compete here they need to play by the rules-and one of the most important rules is the provision of accessible rides for disabled New Yorkers.”
New Yorkers for Equal Transportation Access
Uber is fighting the accessibility mandate because it would impact their bottom line as they prepare to make an IPO killing on Wall Street.
As Gerstman goes on to point out: “The emails uncovered by Politico expose a sham. Uber is posturing about their minority drivers as they prepare to laugh all the way to the investment bank. Lost in all of this smoke and mirrors
are the real victims of corporate callousness: the immigrant medallion owners and the disabled New Yorkers who expected that their elected officials would stand up for them.
If Uber has hundreds of thousands of dollars to pay lobbyists, and millions more for mailings and advertisements, it should be able to come up with enough money for accessible cars for New York’s disabled citizens.”
Now that NYETA has begun to expose this sham, more and more elected officials are coming to the realization that Uber’s unregulated growth is not in the public interest, and that the rules that apply to taxis must be equally applied to everyone doing the same on demand service.
In the coming weeks we will be mobilizing the entire taxi industry-medallion owners, drivers, and their families-to join with advocates for the disabled to call upon their elected officials to legislate a level playing field. No one is afraid of competition as long as the rules in place are applied to all of the players.