Lorena Gonzalez is the secretary-treasurer of the San Diego and Imperial Counties Labor Council. Gonzalez and Mikaiil Hussein, president of the United Taxi Workers of San Diego, also issued a statement together upon the affiliation of the independent taxi workers with the labor council. You can read that statement here.
At the Labor Council, our mission is to create more jobs, better jobs and better lives for all of San Diego's workers—union and nonunion. For years, we have proudly worked on policies that bring up the standard for our entire community; things like a living wage ordinance, paid family leave, worker retention policies and health care access for working families.
But until now, as the AFL-CIO umbrella organization for the San Diego region, our 192,000 members have consisted of only unionized workers, retirees and their families. Today, for the first time in our local history, we are excited to be welcoming a new group not covered by collective bargaining agreements into our fold—the United Taxi Workers of San Diego (UTWSD).
Taxi drivers are frequently characterized—often erroneously—as “independent contractors,” which denies them the right to engage in collective bargaining. This classification has permitted the exploitation of these largely immigrant workers as they are also not protected by traditional state or federal employment laws.
As a result, drivers do not benefit from labor laws protecting mandatory lunch periods, breaks, minimum wage and limited shifts. They often face 12-hour shifts and uncapped lease fees, lack health insurance and face retaliation in their efforts to improve safety conditions.
But the new affiliation provides taxi workers with needed support as they work with elected officials on policies that support drivers and help continue to shine a light on the many industry and owner-specific abuses afflicting the San Diego taxi industry.
As our economy evolves, it's important that the AFL-CIO continues to take the initiative in reaching out to workers who aren't able to organize with the conventional union process. We are excited to welcome workers into the AFL-CIO with a shared commitment to help forward the workplace rights of all workers and look forward to this dynamic partnership that will help to improve the lives of all San Diego taxi drivers and their families.
Read the San Diego Voice joint statement here.
The United Taxi Workers affiliation with the San Diego and Imperial Counties Labor Council, AFL-CIO, is part of a growing partnership effort by the labor movement and the larger worker rights’ movement to strengthen advocacy and mobilization efforts for taxi drivers, day laborers, domestic workers and all working people. This is the first worker center affiliation in San Diego and the 14th affiliation in the country. This affiliation is part of a historic effort by the AFL-CIO to connect with workers who work in a variety of industries with little to no protection, but who deserve the same collective voice that all people do.
Learn more about AFL-CIO Worker Center Partnerships here.