(WASHINGTON) – Cab drivers in the nation’s capital are joining together with the Teamsters Union to announce the formation of the new Washington, D.C. Taxi Operators Association.
The association is being created to give the more than 6,000 taxi cab drivers in Washington, who are independent owner- or lease-operators, a united, collective voice for positive change in their industry. The association will be affiliated with Teamsters Local 922 in Washington. The first meeting will be held Oct. 29.
“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,” said Ferline Buie, President of Teamsters Local 922. “Their new association with Teamsters Local 922 will give them the strong voice they need and deserve.”
The drivers approached the Teamsters because they need to have input on regulations before they take effect. They want a stronger voice and more representation on the D.C. Taxi Cab Commission.
“This is about fairness for more than 6,000 drivers and their families, and it’s about improving the taxi cab service in our nation’s capital,” said Teamsters General President Jim Hoffa.
Drivers do not oppose fair regulations, but the way in which the regulations have been imposed—with a lack of driver input—has been unfair. They also need more time for the current regulations to take effect. They also are finding that the regulations being imposed cost more than first believed, and they should not have to shoulder all of the costs. To have their cabs painted as required, drivers face costs upwards of $1,100. New dome lights cost about $450, double what drivers initially were told. Service fees and transaction fees for new credit card machines are burdensome, and vendors are taking a very long time to pay drivers.
Already struggling to make ends meet, the average driver earns just $25,000 to $30,000 a year. Many work seven days a week and 16-hour days are not uncommon. Drivers must make car or lease payments and pay for repairs and maintenance. They spend as much as $40 per day on fuel and $100 or more per month for auto insurance.
“Our goal is to provide safe, reliable service to our customers,” said Jesse Black, a driver for nearly 40 years. “To do that, we need a strong voice, and our association with the Teamsters will give us that voice.”
Last year, Teamsters Local 117 in Seattle organized more than 500 taxi drivers into the Western Washington Taxicab Operators Association. The association works closely with the union to improve working conditions for taxi cab operators throughout the Seattle area.
The first meeting of the Washington, D.C. Taxi Operators Association will be held Tuesday, Oct. 29 at 4 p.m. at Teamsters Local 639, 3100 Ames Place, NE, Washington, DC 20018.
To learn more, go to www.teamster.org/dctaxi. Founded in 1903, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters represents 1.4 million hardworking men and women throughout the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico. Follow us on Twitter @Teamsters and use #dctaxi to track updates. “Like” us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/teamsters.