NYTWA Testifies at City Council FHV Committee Hearing & Responds to FHV Bill Package!

Our Organizing Made Historic Cap + More Possible in August! Keep up the Momentum for Phase TWO Of Our City Council Victories!

Because of our organizing, we won a cap on the number of vehicles, which was just the start! The City Council also introduced bills in August that came straight from our Protect Full-Time Jobs campaign demands! We are keeping up the momentum to win protection for App drivers from predatory leasing practices, financial assistance for yellow cab owner-drivers, a health and benefits fund for all drivers, and MORE!

Today, NYTWA members who drive Uber and yellow cab testified in front of the City Council For Hire Vehicle (FHV) Committee on the bills!

NYTWA has been fighting for a lease cap for App-based drivers since December 2017. We have been calling for regulation on companies that lease or finance FHV cars: $350 per week cap for weekly leases and $275 cap per week for lease-to-buy financing (and no more than $42,900 in total).

NYTWA Member and former Uber Driver Abraham Lobe testified at the hearing to urge the City Council to stop the predatory leasing practices in the FHV sector. Read his full testimony below:

My name is Abraham Lobe. I am a proud member of the New York Taxi Workers Alliance.

I entered into a lease-to-own agreement for a used Lincoln MKT, for 3 years of $500 weekly payments. The car was already one year old with 30,000 miles on it. The estimated bluebook value would be around $28,500 while I paid $78,000. I was also required to fix repairs only at their garage.

The company would own the car until the end when they would sell it to me. About a year in, the company failed to renew the FHV license. Because they were the owner they had to do that-- they were the only ones who could file the TLC paperwork. With the license expired I couldn't drive for three weeks. They didn’t provide me a loaner car. I couldn’t work so I couldn’t keep up with my bills. No savings, no income, I became homeless.

When the car was ready, they told me to come back and sign on an electronic signature box to get it back. Later I found that they attached this signature to another contract that I had never seen--- this was a contract with a company with a totally different name, for even more payments than I had originally signed up for.

I paid them more than $78,000 but they refused to give me title to the car. They continued to bill for the weeks when I couldn't even use the car. They billed me for summonses that I had never heard of. I did a freedom of information request and found that they were charging for summonses that vehicle owners have to pay. They even charged for a summons related to the driver who had the car before me.

I made a complaint to TLC because they had put my signature on a contract they never showed me, but they took no action. In desperation, I went to the company to try to pay the extra money they wanted, to get the title to my car, even though I knew I shouldn't owe them that, but they wouldn't give it to me. They said they wouldn't let me make those payments because I had made a complaint to the TLC.

Even though they retaliated against me for making a complaint about forging my signature and trying to get me into a longer contract TLC has still done nothing.

We need the City Council to pass this bill, make sure the TLC passes rules that prevent this, and make sure that they actually enforce against violations.

NYTWA also testified that yellow cab medallion owner-drivers need real material support!

Nicanor Ochisor who took his own life in March 2018 was nearing retirement after splitting shifts with his wife for three decades.  A Grandfather in his sixties, he saw no prospects of retiring with dignity, but instead, the twilight years of his life in poverty after he'd served the city for over 30 years behind the wheel.  Two months later, Kenny Chow, took his own life.  Kenny's last medallion mortgage payment had bounced.  After losing his job in the jewelry industry, he entered the taxi business, using all of his savings and borrowed money to purchase a medallion to buy his job security.  As the industry took an economic downturn, Kenny found it impossible to keep up with operating expenses, let alone living expenses, such as college tuition and healthcare for his family.  The stories of Nicanor and Kenny reflect the two realities confronting owner-drivers across this industry.  For every Nicanor and Kenny fighting desperation, Int 1069 and Int 304 can build the path to providing real material support.

Read our comments and proposed amendments to the package of FHV bills below:

Join us at our ALL DRIVERS GENERAL MEETINGS On Our Next Victories at the City Council and TLC... You better believe it, our unity did it!

Come and join us!
ALL DRIVERS GENERAL MEETINGS
This TUESDAY Shift, AUGUST 28th

Day Shift at 12noon and Night shift at 1am (technically Wed morning)
Union Office: 31-10 37th Avenue, 3rd floor LIC, NY

We beat the billionaires and won the FHV vehicle cap and more on August 8th and now, the City Council is holding a hearing on September 17th on regulating the lease and financing costs for FHV cars, a taskforce to help Owner-Driver Debt, plus 5 more bills.  

The TLC, meanwhile, has a hearing on October 3rd on proposals to raise driver incomes. 

DRIVER UNITY WON THE VICTORIES!  Keep up the Momentum, brothers and sisters!  Join the NYTWA meetings on Tuesday, August 28th at 12noon or 1am at the office, 31-10 37th Avenue, Long Island City. 

Join the meetings to discuss TLC Proposal and City Council bills and strategize for the SEPTEMBER 17th Council and OCTOBER 3rd TLC hearings!
See our flyer below!

VICTORY!!! You Better Believe It! NYTWA Did It!

A New Day is Here!

Today, NYTWA members won a historic victory as New York City Council voted YES on the first legislation of its kind to regulate App companies like Uber and Lyft! New York City is the first city in the country to enact drivers' demands into legislation! Months of tireless organizing from members of every sector - yellow, App-based, green, livery, black car - made this victory possible! 

WHAT OUR ORGANIZING WON:

1) A cap on the number of new for-hire-vehicles for 12 months, with the exception of wheelchair accessible vehicles (WAV's). Diamond renewals will continue the same. FHV drivers who are now leasing to own their car will be able to get a new vehicle license during the one year.

2) TLC authority to regulate minimum rates of fare across the industry.  

3) TLC authority to regulate App minimum pay for App drivers and App passenger fares. Now App companies will no longer be able to recklessly cut rates on drivers' backs!

4) Creation of a new corporate license and TLC rulebook for App companies.

The City Council also introduced these bills today for September hearings...onward to our next victory!

1) Require TLC to make rules on FHV leasing, rental, lease-to-own, and conditional purchase agreements!

2) Require TLC to study problem of medallion owners with excessive debt and determine action!

3) Establish a health benefits fund for all drivers

4) Require FHV companies to pay drivers regardless of whether the electronic payment is denied

5) Require TLC to engage in outreach and education to drivers on financial decisions related to medallion purchase, lease, or refinancing and the purchase, rental, or lease of FHVs; and set up centers to help drivers with financial counseling and mental health

6) Establish an Office of Inclusion at TLC with focus on promoting diversity, inclusion, and cultural sensitivity in the industry, especially as they relate to service refusals

WHEN WE FIGHT, WE WIN! TOGETHER, WE HAVE THE POWER!

Months and months of tireless organizing made our victory possible. In unity, here is what we accomplished during our Protect Full-Time Jobs Campaign & Our Response to Driver suicides

November 2017
Surveyed 380 drivers on their economic conditions & demands

December 2017
General Meetings to finalize our demands

February 6, 2018
Vigil for Douglas Schifter at City Hall, following his suicide

March 28
Press Conference on City Hall Steps, following the suicide of Nicanor Ochisor 

April 1
Collected 4,000 postcards demanding that the Mayor & Governor address the crisis

April 25
City Hall Action Day! Drivers met with Council Members during morning meetings then rallied for a press conference on City Hall Steps to submit the 40+ demands of our comprehensive Policy Platform and Rulemaking Petition to the Mayor, the Speaker, and the TLC

April 30
Testified at the City Council FHV Committee Public Hearing

May 22
Press Conference for Police Action to Find Kenny Chow

May 27
Vigil for Kenny Chow

May 29
Rally for Council Action covering Broadway from Murray to Warren

June 7
City Council Stated Meeting Outreach lead by Richard Chow, brother of Kenny Chow

June 18
Press Conference outside City Hall for Abdul Saleh, following his suicide

June 18 - June 29
Daily Protest line outside City Hall from 10am to 6pm

June 21
Funeral service for Brother Abdul Saleh

July 3
Response to TLC Proposal regarding App driver pay

July 10
Demonstration outside City Hall following TLC Proposal that would lock drivers into wage ceiling

July 19
Won our Uber Unemployment Insurance decision victory!

July 29
Released our 9-point Civil Rights Initiative

July 31
Demonstration outside City Hall to say Yes to the FHV Cap + All Drivers' General Meeting to strategize & mobilize

August 1
Bangla Media Press Conference

August 2 - 5
Social Media Campaign to tell City Council: Vote Yes on the Cap! 

August 6
Demonstration outside Uber/Lyft HQ

August 7
Vigil for fallen driver brothers Alfredo, Danilo, Douglas, Nicanor, Kenny, and Abdul outside City Hall

August 8
Vote Day!!!

Read our statement from ED Bhairavi Desai following our victory: 

"This victory belongs to Douglas, to Abdul, to Nicanor, to Alfredo, to Kenny, to Danilo. This victory belongs to the thousands of NYTWA members scraping by to feed their families, who took time away from their cars, losing precious and hard fought income to be on the streets standing together and standing up for each other. This victory belongs to our brothers and sisters who pulled over to the side of the road to call City Council members during their grueling 14 hour shifts. This victory belongs to yellow cab, green cab, livery, black car, Uber and Lyft drivers who united together in our union to transform shared struggle and heartbreak into hope and strength. And this victory belongs to New Yorkers and our allies who have stood with us to say, not one more death, not one more fallen driver crushed by poverty and despair. 

"Thousands of NYTWA members have marched and rallied, have stood together in the blazing sun, in rainstorms, joining us us after sleepless nights and days behind the wheel. Our activism created the momentum to regulate app-dispatch companies for the very first time. What happened today didn't just set a precedent for New York City, it set a precedent for the entire world as app companies like Uber and Lyft use technological innovation to return us to a time of sweated labor, destroying lives and livelihoods across the planet. 

"Six New York City drivers have committed suicide in recent months, including two livery drivers, a black car driver, a yellow cab lease driver and two yellow cab owner-drivers, unable to survive the economic crisis brought on by the over saturation of for-hire-vehicles on our streets. Uber and Lyft have spent millions of dollars lobbying, running ad campaigns of disinformation and trying to push their agenda of libertarian anti-regulation zealotry. Today, New York City said, no more. We cannot be bought. Workers must come before a corporate agenda of greed at all costs. 

"Today, a workforce of over 100,000 men and women, a workforce of immigrants and people color, finally have a reason to hope for an end to this crisis. Today we took the first step. Tomorrow we will continue to fight."

WIN THE VOTES! Take Action to Protect our Victory on August 8th!!!

THIS! IS! IT!... SHOW UP FOR VICTORY!!! FILL UP CITY HALL TOMORROW WEDNESDAY AUGUST 8th FOR A HISTORIC VOTE DAY!!! (Broadway & Murray)

BE SEEN AND BE HEARD FOR VICTORY!!! SPREAD THE WORD!!

What City Council is voting on tomorrow because of our organizing:

  • Cap on new FHV cars for 12 months with exception or Wheelchair Accessible Vehicles (WAVs). Diamond renewals will continue the same. FHV drivers now leasing-to-own their car will be able to get a new vehicle license during the one year.
  • TLC authority to regulate App minimum pay for App drivers and App passenger fares.
  • Creation of a new corporate license and TLC rulebook for the App companies.
  • The Council also announced plans to introduce a bill to put a cap on FHV car vehicle financing and rental leases and to set up a health fund for all drivers.

From La Guardia to Penn Station to our neighborhood mom & pop stores, we're spreading the word and letting City Council know: We Need the Cap! Vote Yes! Don't Let Uber Stop the City from Passing Regulations to Protect our Full-Time Jobs!

 CLICK HERE FOR OUR FACEBOOK ALBUM OF PHOTOS FROM THE CAMPAIGN!

CLICK HERE FOR OUR FACEBOOK ALBUM OF PHOTOS FROM THE CAMPAIGN!

NYTWA Racial Justice and Civil Rights Initiative

NYTWA is committed to addressing race-based refusals head on while we continue our fight for economic justice. This week we introduced our racial justice and civil rights initiative to stop race-based refusals in the taxi and for-hire industry, a long-standing issue in our industry which we have worked to address throughout the years.  We know our organizing has been a factor in complaints coming down through the years, and more so, we know much more still needs to be done.   We look forward to continuing our work with the TLC through the newly established Office of Inclusion.  Our proposals include racial justice mandatory training for all TLC professionally licensed drivers as part of license renewal, peer-to-peer driver outreach to address bias, improvements in taxi e-hail such as pre-payments and navigation, recruitment for new drivers in under represented communities and taxi stands in the central business district and at subway stops.

Drivers collectively serve over a million people every single day.  We are the ambassadors of this city, and operate its iconic symbol.  We don’t want to be alienated from discussions of justice and fairness in our city.  More importantly, we want to be contributors to move us forward as a community, never backwards. 

You can also read an OpEd by Councilwoman Adrienne Adams which highlights our Initiative here