Everyone is talking about the “gig economy.” From Hillary Clinton to Jeb Bush, companies like Uber and their impact on the economy are on the minds of every reporter and a lot of workers these days. Today, taxi drivers in Montgomery County, Md.—working with the National Taxi Workers Alliance (NTWA)—helped pass a sweeping set of reforms to the taxi industry that have the potential to shift this conversation yet again. This victory will help level the playing field and put power back into the hands of workers. It also presents an alternative vision for how taxi drivers and workers in general can take the lead in the new and changing economy rather than letting corporate behemoths like Uber set the agenda.
The reforms included in the legislation include:
- Creating a union of independent contractors with binding arbitration;
- Limiting the power of predatory taxi companies by lowering lease rates and credit card fees; and
- Allowing drivers to compete with Uber through the establishment of a centralized app-based dispatch system and the creation of a driver-run co-op, which will provide Montgomery County with greater access to accessible vehicles and allow passengers to more easily order taxis.