(WASHINGTON) – Hundreds of taxi drivers rallied outside the monthly meeting of the D.C. Taxicab Commission today to protest the unfair towing and ticketing of cabs and to demand a voice in the regulatory process.
The drivers, members of the Teamster-affiliated Washington, D.C. Taxi Operators Association, also planned to speak out during the meeting against proposed regulations that would force hundreds of drivers off the streets by restricting older-model vehicles.
“Drivers are fed up with not having a say in the rules and regulations that affect their lives every day,” said Ferline Buie, President of Teamsters Local 922 in Washington. “Now we confront a new issue – the new vehicle age policy. This is yet another example where drivers have been left out of the process.”
The association sued last week to stop the District from towing taxis and issuing fines to drivers who have been unable to install new dome lights or credit card machines. Approved vendors have dropped out of the program, limiting access to dome lights and credit card machines. Drivers have reported that the dome lights are out of stock and unavailable. There also have been reports of price gouging and unreliability of equipment.
“The city is hell-bent on destroying our livelihoods at any cost,” said Jesse Black, a 40-year D.C. taxi driver. “This is an honorable profession that has a proud history in the District of Columbia of giving African Americans and immigrants the ability to provide for their families. It’s shameful that the city wants to kill off our good, middle-class jobs.”
Drivers work long days—often up to 16 hours, seven days a week—and earn about $25,000 to $30,000 per year providing a valuable service. The unfair towing and ticketing has severely hurt them and their families.
“All over the city drivers are having their vehicles towed and impounded without due process,” said driver Kolawole Akinadewo. “It is outrageous that rather than working with drivers to educate them and give them more time, inspectors are destroying the livelihoods of families who already struggle every day to make ends meet.”
For more information, visit www.dctaxidrivers.com and 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 “Like” us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/teamsters.