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District cab drivers feel like they didn’t have a say in the latest change to the city’s cab regulations, and now they’re teaming up with the local Teamsters union to form a new association that says it would give the District’s 6,000 cab drivers a collective voice.
The new D.C. Taxi Operators Association will have their first meeting Oct. 29 and will be affiliated with Teamsters Local 922—the area chapter of the labor union.
“For far too long, taxi drivers in Washington, D.C., have not had a strong voice to provide input about regulations and policies that affect their livelihoods,” Ferline Buie, President of Teamsters Local 922, said in a press release. “Their new association with Teamsters Local 922 will give them the strong voice they need and deserve.”
Though this will be the closest the cab drivers have to an actual union, they already organize under a few other groups, like the Small Business Association of DC Taxicab Drivers and DC Drivers United for Equal Rights, which met with the D.C. Taxicab Commission last month to discuss issues with the mandatory credit reader installation process. The teamsters, however, will probably be a more powerful organizer, with a 110 year history and more than 1 million members throughout the United States and Canada.
According to the release, the cab drivers approached the teamsters about the partnership. Cab drivers have a litany of complaints over new regulations in their industry, including the installation process of the credit card readers, the pricey domes they are required to buy, and the mandatory repainting of the outside of their vehicles. The average driver earns between $25,000 and $30,000 per year, with many working 7 days a week and 16-hour days, the release states.
Teamsters are already working with cab drivers in Seattle.
“Our goal is to provide safe, reliable service to our customers,” said Jesse Black, a 40-year veteran of the cab industry, in the release. “To do that, we need a strong voice, and our association with the Teamsters will give us that voice.”
Photo by Darrow Montgomery.