সুপ্রভাত New Yorkers! We’re back. Happy new year one more time if you’re still doing that. Let’s get right to the best independent news from New York City and state.

why are New York’s Uber and Lyft drivers being denied a raise? Because Uber and sued the New York Taxi & Limousine Commission (TLC) to halt drivers’ pay raise. Following two strikes by New York Taxi Workers’ Alliance members, a judge ruled in favor of Uber last week.  

Nusrat Jahan, an Uber driver who participated in the strike, shared her account with OptOut News.

Q: What made you start driving for Uber?

A: I used to work in the health industry for about four years. Then I wanted to have a flexible schedule and better income, which led me to start working as an individual contractor.

As a mother of two, I need to pick up and drop kids from school sometime, attend parent-teacher meetings, doctor’s appointments, which is why I needed my own time to work.

Q: In a video of solidarity, you mentioned that this raise was long overdue. When was the last time you got a raise?

A: The pay rate was last set in 2018, and then adjusted for inflation in 2020, and once in 2022. But this was before inflation started to skyrocket in March 2022.

So drivers spent 2022 paying for inflation and are still waiting to make up that money. The 2018 rate was to give drivers $17.22 per hour. That is not enough. We want $25 per hour take-home.

Q: What has been your journey since 2018?

A: Since the last pay raise, inflation has gone up by [so much]. And this raise wasn’t given to us overnight. It was following years-long fights, strikes, so many hearings, after that TLC approved this raise for Uber and Lyft drivers.  

Q: How would not getting the raise affect you while we’re in such high inflation?

A: New York is one of the most expensive cities in the whole world. If my income doesn’t meet my expenses, how long can I survive? I don’t even see my income; it comes and goes by paying bills.

On top of that, Uber deactivates drivers without giving us a chance to share our account. They don’t even pay for our health insurance, no benefits, and we have no job security.

We drivers work day and night to make sure the city doesn’t stop. Because of us, people are moving from one part of the city to another 24/7. We make sure wherever you go, I’m here to drop you home safe. But Uber raised the price for passengers, but they didn’t share it with us.

Q: You mentioned you’re going to school now. What are you studying and why the shift?

A: I’m preparing to move into the IT industry now. I loved my job as a driver; it gives me opportunities to see all the five boroughs of beautiful New York City. If I hadn't been driving, I wouldn’t know how beautiful New York City is in every season.

But it’s becoming impossible to survive with such high expenses in an underpaid job. Imagine if all the drivers plan like me. What would happen to Uber and Lyft? No driver, no Uber!

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A newsletter for New Yorkers is nothing without the voice of New Yorkers. Send us your favorite or annoying New York moment, whether it’s on the subway or with the pigeons or overhearing tourists. We’ll pick our favorite to highlight in the next newsletter. Email newyork@optout.news!

when a Jamaican-American accepted the request to drive an elderly woman to the city from JFK Airport because he “felt compassion for her,” he was issued summons by authorities that could have a penalty up to $2,000 because he was technically not on the job. Yup, you read that right: a 49-year-old man’s good deed immediately went punished because the woman he picked up was an undercover TLC agent. He is among other immigrant drivers of color who are falling victim to repeated sting operations by TLC undercover officers who are hunting drivers by “begging and badgering drivers to give them rides and appealing to drivers’ sympathy for members of similar immigrant or ethnic communities.”

DOCUMENTED NY has the story.

Immigrant Drivers Fined by New York TLC Police in Sting Operations - Documented
Lawsuit and advocates says that New York TLC police sting operations mainly affect immigrant drivers of color and pose disproportionate fines
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where there is a tenant, there’s a landlord making them question their capacity to live. It’s a cute NYC thing, and it’s relentless. Tenants in a building in upper Manhattan are facing everything from mushrooms growing in their bathrooms to intruders outnumbering the actual tenants to feces and needles in their hallways (from said intruders). One woman with cancer didn’t have heat during the winter.

The only positive highlight from the story is that there is something called—and I’m not joking—the Worst Landlord Watchlist. It’s like Openigloo on steroids except that it’s run by the NYC public advocate’s office. Anyway, they called this particular landlord, Daniel Shalom, “the most ‘egregiously negligent’ private owner.”

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HELL GATE NYC goes deep into this apartment building with “No Heat, Bathroom Mushrooms, Bees in the Wall.”

No Heat, Bathroom Mushrooms, Bees in the Wall: Life Under One of NYC’s Most ‘Egregiously Negligent’ Landlords - Hell Gate
“How is it possible that a city, a system, allows landlords to profit from their bad behavior?”
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who are the faces of Rikers? And what will it take to bring about a change at the facility?

Listen to THE CITY reporter Reuven Blau and New York Daily News reporter Graham Rayman in conversation about their book, Rikers: An Oral History. The authors share their worries about how desensitized people have become to the plight of Rikers’ prisoners.

Blau and Rayman discuss their personal reflections on covering Rikers and the jarring stories of correctional officers boasting about their abuse, while centering voices for inmates who are disproportionately Black and Brown.

On the FAQ NYC podcast:

LISTEN: The History of Rikers from Those Who Were There
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what is maybe one glimmer of hope amid all this grim news? Gov. Kathy Hochul has announced a plan that aims to put a price on carbon for businesses and, if it goes through, the plan “could mark one of the most sweeping plans in the country to ditch fossil fuels.” Yay!  

As per the plan, businesses would have to “buy allowances to pollute.” Eventually there would be a cap enforced on the number of allowances “until emissions are brought down by at least 85%.”

I know one of you will make a board game out of this and you know what, yes please.

NEW YORK FOCUS has the rest of the good news.

Hochul Calls for ‘Cap and Invest’ to Slash Emissions
New York’s version of cap and trade is winning over skeptics. Will the harmony last when it’s time to hammer out the details?
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Bronx fire one year on

Last January, a fire erupted in a Bronx apartment complex and killed 17 people, most of them African immigrants.

I spent two days covering it, listening to the occasional cries of survivors, their prayers, their solidarity.

Survivors have told DOCUMENTED NY they are still awaiting donations that were promised to them by the city.

We’ll take a minute to honor the victims, the youngest of whom was a two-year-old.

  • Ousmane Konteh, 2
  • Fatoumata Dukureh, 5
  • Omar Jambay, 6
  • Haouwa Mahamdou, 5
  • Mariam Dukureh, 11
  • Mustapha Dukyhreh, 12
  • Seydou Toure, 12
  • Muhammed Drammeh, 12
  • Nyumaaisha Drammeh, 19
  • Foutmala Drammeh, 21
  • Sera Janneh, 27
  • Isatou Jabbie, 31
  • Hagi Jawara, 37
  • Haja Dukureh, 37
  • Fatoumata Tunkara, 43
  • Haji Dukary, 49
  • Fatoumata Drammeh, 50

I’m sharing with you a personal reflection of what I saw—and didn’t see—during my coverage.

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🕊️ 🕊️ 🕊️

Featured image credit: Samira Asma-Sadeque.

Correction: This newsletter originally stated that Uber and Lyft sued the TLC. Only Uber took part in this lawsuit.

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