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.