The New Jersey State Conference of the NAACP issued a letter to Newark Mayor Ras Baraka and City Council members urging them to reconsider pushing an ordinance requiring Uber drivers to pay an annual $1,500 licensing fee to operate within the city.
“As an organization committed to removing economic barriers for communities of color throughout New Jersey, we are extremely troubled by the City of Newark’s current consideration of an ordinance related to transportation network companies (also known as ridesharing apps) like Uber. In its current form, this ordinance would place undue financial hardship on thousands of Newark residents and close economic opportunity for thousands more,” reads the letter, signed by NJ NAACP President Richard Smith.
According to Smith, the imposed fees would cut out an “economic lifeline” for the 2000 Uber drivers currently working in Newark and “put them out of business.”
One thousand dollars of the proposed ordinance fee is the cost the city wants ridesharing operators to pay in order to pick up and drop off at two of Newark’s most prominent and busiest locations: Newark Liberty International Airport and Newark Penn Station. The additional $500 is for an additional Newark license.
“The people of Newark elected a mayor and a city council who ran on a platform of economic justice and shared prosperity. We ask now that you stand up for those ideals and reject this ordinance. Ridesharing apps are helping low income communities climb the economic ladder, and no leader who truly considers the public interest would stand in the way of this progress,” the NAACP letter reads.
The pushback from the NAACP comes just one day after Uber launched a radio and mailer campaign blasting Baraka and the council for supposedly negatively impacting the livelihoods of Newarkers.
According to a Tuesday report on NJ.com, the company’s general manager for New Jersey Ana Mahony said that the ridesharing company is likely to leave Newark if Baraka and the city council pass the proposed ordinance.The ordinances are to be put up for consideration at next week’s council meeting.
The battle between Uber and Baraka has been raging since January of this year when the city announced that it would be ticketing and towing Uber vehicles operating at the city’s transit hubs.
Traditional taxi drivers in the city are in support of the regulations.