New York, NY – A New Day is Here!
That’s the triumphant headline on the New York Taxi Workers Alliance website this week, after New York City recently became the first city in the country to “enact drivers’ demands into legislation” and place limits on the app-based car service industry — including a 12-month cap on For-Hire-Vehicles.
“NYTWA members won a historic victory as New York City Council voted YES on the first legislation of its kind to regulate App companies like Uber and Lyft,” the NYTWA website reads. “Months of tireless organizing from members of every sector – yellow, app-based, green, livery, black car – made this victory possible!”
Indeed, after the losing six NYC cabbies who could no longer make it with Uber and Lyft flooding the streets – and resorted to suicide – it seems a light is appearing at the end of a very dark tunnel. And yet, the stories of suffering workers and the mostly unseen and unheard victims of corruption and bad policy who labor in this industry will not immediately disappear.
Shouket Fareed, who hails from Pakistan, has been in America for 28 years and driven a yellow medallion taxi for almost all of them. Now, after all that time, he has lost everything he worked so hard to achieve.
“My whole life I work,” Fareed recently told LaborPress. The veteran NYC cabbie says he has lost properties in New Jersey which he labored for years to own, has seen his marriage end in divorce, and has had to declare bankruptcy. A bad loan contributed to his troubles, he adds, and now feels like the fruits of his years of hard labor are gone forever. He still drives his cab, however. Although now, his job is all he has left.
Medallion taxis are huge investments for drivers like Fareed, and routinely take many years to pay off. But in the age of Uber, the value of the medallion has plummeted, leaving drivers high and dry, after relying on them as life-long investments that could support whole families. The huge price plunge, of course, correlates to the rise of ride-sharing apps like Uber and Lyft.
For now, drivers like Fareed are simply faced with the grim reality that America has not rewarded them for their years of hard work and labor. Instead, the opposite is true: they have each fallen victim to corruption and the cold hand of American capitalism.
Acting collectively, however, there is now hope behind the wheel.