Vinod Mubayi


Many taxi drivers in New York City are of South Asian origin, Pakistanis, Indians and Bangladeshis. Many struggle to make a living driving cabs leased from owners of large fleets. For several years the taxi drivers have represented by the New York Taxi Workers Alliance NYTWA), a progressive union, led by its executive director Bhairavi Desai, which has consistently fought for a better deal for its members. On July 12 the NYTWA achieved part of its goal when the Taxi and Limousine Commission, a New York City agency, voted to approve a 17% fare hike with almost all of the benefits going to the cab drivers.


In a press statement the NYTWA said:


‘Today was a historic day for the taxi drivers of New York City. We now have a Health and Disability Fund, providing first-time benefits to a workforce that labors in dangerous and exhausting conditions. Our incomes will end the downward spiral of poverty we have suffered for almost a decade. We’ll be able to earn a decent living. All taxi companies will finally be under regulation, as we’ve been since the inception of the TLC, and the loopholes in existing regulations will be closed, ending eight long years of rampant lease overcharges…. This was a months-long good faith negotiation against some of the wealthiest and most politically powerful corporations in New York City. David took on Goliath and won.”


According to the New York Times of July 13, “Owners of large taxi fleets, however, complained that they would not receive a larger proportion of the higher fares, saying they should be able to charge drivers proportionately higher rates for renting a vehicle.” While the owners are threatening legal action, most of the political leaders in the city, including the mayor, have supported the taxi drivers.

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