On Monday, May 12, D.C. taxi drivers and representatives of the Teamsters Local 922-affiliated Washington, D.C. Taxi Operators Association blasted a D.C. Council committee bill that would regulate private sedan services.
The drivers who belong to the association packed the hearing room and held signs with an illustration of the D.C. license plates, including the motto “Taxation without representation.” Others held signs that read “dignity” and “respect.”
The representatives and drivers said the Council bill, titled the Transportation Network Services Innovation Act of 2014, favors the private sedan service companies and continues to give them an unfair competitive advantage over D.C. taxi drivers.
“I would encourage all members of this committee to reject this bill and evaluate the current ‘ride for hire’ industry,” said Joel Wood, a Teamsters Union representative. “The DCTC [D.C. Taxicab Commission] has done the right thing by regulating this industry with its current proposed regulations. Please consider these regulations by the commission and vote for the right thing for this industry, not what is best for Uber, Sidecar and Lyft.”
“The [bill] is government capitulation to private industry, so that big business does not have to play by the same rules,” said Royale Simms, a Business Agent with Local 922. “The [bill] lacks government checks and rather entrusts public safety and consumer protection to companies with track records of skirting the law.”
D.C. taxi drivers must abide by numerous rules and regulations, or face steep fines. Meanwhile, the private sedan services entered the D.C. market months ago illegally and continue to operate illegally.
“They have been allowed to write their own legislation and pass it off as work that should have been done by this committee,” Wood said.
Addis Gebreselassi, a member of the association’s Leadership Council, also testified.
“The taxi drivers in D.C. work hard and play by the rules,” he said. “This legislation once again gives the companies a free pass.”