Facing new regulations to bring their vehicles into the 21st century, D.C. taxi drivers have found a new ally: The Teamsters.
In a release, the Teamsters Union announced the formation of the Washington, D.C. Taxi Operators Association, which will be affiliated with Teamsters Local 922. It's not a union (drivers in D.C. are either independent owner- or lease-operators, so they can't unionize), but the association is the next best thing.
“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 the release. “Their new association with Teamsters Local 922 will give them the strong voice they need and deserve.”
At the root of the association's formation is the modernization project D.C. cabs are currently undergoing, including the recent mandatory credit card reader installation.
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 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.
A spokesperson for the D.C. Taxicab Commission said they are "aware of the intention of Local 922 to provide services to the Washington, DC Taxi Operators Association but have no comment on the matter."
A small group of drivers sued the DCTC and the city over these modernization efforts, claiming some violate their constitutional rights with others are discriminatory against older people.
The Teamster release says the average D.C. driver earns between $25,000 and $30,000 a year. The D.C. Taxi Operators Association will meet next Tuesday at Teamsters Local 639. - dcist - Sarah Anne Hughes