Black Car Drivers Strike
October 9, 2012
By Marc Bussanich, LaborPress City Reporter
About 65 black car drivers walked off the job on Friday, October 5 to protest egregious working conditions such as netting only $100 after working 14 hours in one day. The International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, District 15 represented the drivers recently at a National Labor Relations Board meeting, but unfortunately the board did not rule in favor of the drivers.
The drivers work for N.Y.C. 2 Way in Park Slope, Brooklyn, which is one of several companies owned by the Corporate Transportation Group, driving customers who work for big financial houses such as Citibank.
Vincent Addeo, Director of Organizing for IAMAW, District 15, said at the demonstration, “I’m here speaking on behalf of my directing business representative, Jim Conigliaro, who’s been working diligently for many years trying to bring justice and respect to drivers in the black car industry.”
The union argued legally before the NLRB on behalf of the drivers that N.Y.C 2 Way, although owned by the same owner of the CTG Group, operates as a separate company because it has franchise agreements with the drivers.
With the NLRB ruling that the drivers work for one company rather than several, despite the separate franchise agreements, makes the task of organizing the whole unit much more difficult, which includes about 1,200 drivers.
“We’ve withdrawn our petition against CTG after the Board’s one-company ruling. But we are now in the process of trying to organize the drivers working for the other companies so that they together can stand up for their rights,” said Addeo.
One flagrant action committed by the company, noted Addeo, is that the company doesn't inform its drivers when it offers discounts to its corporate clients or private customers. Because the company doesn’t charge established fare rates, the amount of money a driver earns in one week can greatly vary. CTG also imposes expensive fines if drivers aren’t dressed properly or if their cars are not in good condition.
Addeo also noted that customers, i.e., the big financial houses, in the industry dictate the price to companies such as CTG. When Citibank demanded lower rates for transporting its executives, CTG jumped at the opportunity to grab Citibank as a new customer.
“It’s a race to the bottom. While CTG’s competitors didn’t pursue the account, CTG did. And then it increased the charge from $55 to $75 dollars for drivers to use the computer dispatch system in the sedans to make up the profit loss from the reduced rate with Citibank,” said Addeo.
Joining the black car drivers on the picket line were members of the New York Taxi Workers Alliance. Executive Director Bhairavi Desai said in a statement, “For workers to make this kind of sacrifice in this economy says something about how desperate the conditions are and how determined the workers are.”
Addeo said, “It’s great to see these drivers joining hands together because it’s been too long they've been without a voice. And it’s great to see the taxi workers showing they’re support. firstname.lastname@example.org