My name is Peter Ibik. For the past 17 years, I have driven a wheelchair-accessible taxi for Barwood in Montgomery County, Md. The taxi system isn’t working for drivers or passengers in Montgomery County, especially those requiring wheelchair-accessible transportation. We have been working on legislative reforms that are pro-passenger and pro-driver. We have gotten support from a majority of council members on reforms that are good for drivers. But these reforms have fallen short for people who need accessible taxis.
Taxi riders in Newark, N.J., can now enjoy the convenience of using a cellphone app to book a cab while resting secure in the knowledge that the dispatched driver is licensed and insured, and that the vehicle they are about to get into has been inspected and regularly maintained.
Taxi drivers in Montgomery County, Md., work long hours and make barely above the minimum wage because the companies they work for charge them tens of thousands of dollars in fees each month. Fed up with this situation, these workers have proposed a Passenger and Driver Bill of Rights that would make sure drivers are paid a living wage, that they have basic workplace protections and are able to give their customers the best service possible. And they are working to get the County Council to pass the bill, which also would update the outdated dispatch system to improve service and convenience for riders and regulate companies like Uber.
San Francisco taxi drivers last week voted to form the San Francisco Taxi Workers Alliance (SFTWA) and affiliate with the National Taxi Workers Alliance (NTWA). They are the second group of taxi workers in recent weeks to join with NTWA following the Montgomery County (Md.) Professional Drivers Union’s affiliation.
Labor leaders like AFT President Randi Weingarten, AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Elizabeth Shuler, AFL-CIO Executive Vice President Emerita Arlene Holt Baker, National Taxi Workers Alliance Executive Director Bhairavi Desai and National Domestic Workers Alliance Director Ai-jen Poo are some of the women Bryce Covert mentions in her article for The Nation, How the Rise of Women in Labor Could Save the Movement.
“My voice is kind of going. I’ve got to get used to this!” says Antonio Elizondo, a 23-year-old Union Summer intern from Los Angeles.
Elizondo is one of about 30 interns who converged on the AFL-CIO headquarters in Washington, D.C., this week for workshops and classes on activism and union organizing as the start of Union Summer, the AFL-CIO’s national program that introduces interns to the labor movement on union organizing campaigns.
It's been a good few years for taxi drivers gaining a voice on the job. Today in Austin, Texas, the National Taxi Workers Alliance (NTWA) granted its first local chapter charter since it joined the AFL-CIO. The NTWA was chartered by the AFL-CIO in 2011, with New York City and Philadelphia locals as the founding members.
More than 100 striking taxi drivers from Las Vegas traveled to the state Capitol in Carson City, Nev., this week to rally in support of legislation to crack down on the practice of "long-hauling" and to give drivers a voice on the Nevada Taxicab Authority Board. As previously reported, the drivers, who are members of ITPEU/OPEIU Local 4873, have been on strike since May 3 from Yellow-Checker-Star Transportation.