By Mark Hallum
For-hire drivers in New York City can benefit further from a membership with the Black Car Fund which will be expanding the benefits of their program through a surcharge increase of half a percentage point, expected to offer more help in the ongoing pandemic.
The state legislature voted last year to approve the BCF surcharge on customers of Uber, Lyft and other services from 2.5 to 3% which help them provide a new, yet-to-be determined benefit on top of the telemedicine care for drivers, workers’ compensation, safety courses and wellness classes that come free to drivers.
“In these difficult times, we must ensure that for-hire drivers in New York have access to benefits that help them cope with COVID-19 and allow them to maintain both their physical and financial health,” said Ira Goldstein, executive director of the Black Car Fund. “The Black Car Fund plays an essential role in the livelihoods of drivers and their families, and drivers play an essential role in getting New York moving again. Now is the time to step up and give drivers more help when they need it the most.”
The BCF acts as a safety net for up to 125,000 for-hire drivers across the state providing benefits that operating platform apps commonly used by this work force in the gig economy is not required to. Staten Island Senator Diane Savino and Harlem Assemblyman Robert Rodriguez brought the vote to both chambers in Albany to allow the surcharge increase in 2019.
“For-hire drivers risked their health to get essential workers to-and-from jobs at hospitals and fire stations during the toughest moments of the pandemic. We must continue to be here for them as they were for all of us,” said Black Car Fund Executive Chairman Berj Haroutunian. “This increase in benefits will help strengthen the safety net for independent workers who need to stay healthy to provide for their families.”
While the benefits such as telemedicine and workers compensation are already in place, the BCF will now need to decide which benefits can be added per the budget, details of which are not currently known by organization at this time, according to a spokesperson.