A few weeks ago, Uber and Lyft have begun threatening to leave the Chicago market. This was because of a referendum which proposed that all drivers should be required to undergo background checks. They would need to be fingerprinted in order to continue working for the said companies. This all happened during a heated council debate wherein the companies involved have expressed their frustration towards the referendum.
The Chicago City Council has carefully considered the proposal of Anthony Beale who thought it was best to have a chauffeur’s license requirement for all drivers. This meant that drivers have to pay a hefty $115, complete a one day course, undergo a background check, get fingerprinted and have their vehicle inspected.
It involved the proposal to decline any Uber and Lyft vehicles which were more than six years old. It would also require 5% of those cars to be accessible for Persons with Disabilities (PWD). The entire testimony lasted for six hours last May 25. However, Beale’s proposal didn’t get enough votes to be passed. He vowed to amend certain areas of his proposition so that more people will vote in favor of it on June 22.
Both Uber and Lyft have made a similar argument to the Chicago City Council which they previously had in Austin. They said that these requirements were too strict for a type of workforce which is heavily dependent on hiring part time drivers. They have added that a huge percentage of their drivers only consider working for them because of the opportunity for a part time job.
Uber and Lyft both argued that their drivers shouldn’t be allowed to undergo the same regulations which are implemented to full time chauffeurs. Joseph Okpaku, Lyft’s vice president, expressed his thoughts to the Chicago City Council saying, “Our company cannot be operated under a regulatory framework.
If we cannot hire part time drivers or casual drivers to our team, the entire model will fail. If you will let the critical mass of drivers be shut down, surely the whole system will crumble.” Additionally, Marco McCottry, Uber’s Chicago general manager have told them, “If this ordinance will be passed, ride sharing will no longer exist in the city of Chicago.” Both companies claim that their services are different from regular taxis. They explained that they cater to under served minority neighborhoods. Uber and Lyft have pleaded not to take away the opportunity they’re giving to part time drivers who’s main goal is to provide financial stability for their families.
Image: Abhijit Bhaduri