A Historic Victory for Taxi Drivers

A Historic Victory for Taxi Drivers

July 13, 2012
By Bhairavi Desai

Yesterday, July 12, 2012, was an historic day for the taxi drivers of New York City.  We now have a Health and Disability Fund, providing first-time benefits to a workforce that labors in dangerous and exhausting conditions.  Our incomes will end the downward spiral of poverty we have suffered for almost a decade.  We’ll be able to earn a decent living.

All taxi companies will finally be under regulation, as we’ve been since the inception of the TLC, and the loopholes in existing regulations will be closed, ending eight long years of rampant lease overcharges.  And the great 5% credit card heist in which we lose 5% on every transaction, including the tip, the toll and the tax – when we didn’t choose the processor or get the system’s advertising revenue – will finally end.

This was a months-long good faith negotiation against some of the wealthiest and most politically powerful corporations in New York City. David took on Goliath and won.

We thank Mayor Bloomberg for his unwavering support.

We thank Commissioner Marc Gjonaj, who despite intense lobbying by an embittered industry and their Commissioner champions, cast the deciding 5th vote to make this historic victory possible.

We thank Commissioners LaShann M. DeArcy, Edward Gonzalez, and Iris Weinshall for their impassioned and unequivocal understanding that the taxi workers of this city deserve both a livable income and benefits, but also protections against lease overcharges. We thank Commissioner Lauvienska Polanco for her support of the raise.

We thank our labor allies, especially President Vinny Alvarez of the Central Labor Council, Ed Ott and Richard Winsten.

We thank the City Council Members who stood with us in the final hours.

We thank the TLC staff who engaged in objective and good faith economic analysis of this industry and allowed the numbers, not the politics, to determine the story.

To TLC Chairman David Yassky, whose vision, fairness, and compassion led the way: you showed boldness and true character, refusing to make political shortcuts on the backs of working people.  You have ushered in changes that fundamentally change the debate in this industry and finally move drivers from the margins.

Our better tomorrow was ultimately won because of the organizing and sacrifices of our membership who packed the hearing rooms, participated in studies, raised public consciousness and refused to give up the pursuit for justice. Hearing after hearing after protest after press conference after general meeting, NYTWA members stood strong, resilient, had the courage to negotiate and withstood intimidation and relentlessness from powerful opponents. Taxi workers organized, unionized, stood up and won.   Goliath lost.

July 13, 2012

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