CAMPAIGN TO PROTECT OUR FULL-TIME JOBS
Today, We Mourn. On Tuesday, We Mobilize.
REST IN PEACE
YU MEIN KENNY CHOW
Father, Husband, Brother, Friend, NYC Taxi Driver
Richard Chow, Brother of Kenny Chow, praying at vigil on May 27th, overlooking the East River at 86th St & East End Avenue.
Join us to demand that the City Council act ASAP on our demands to stop the drivers' crisis!
Rally for City Council Action on Our Demands
This Tuesday, May 29th
Outside City Hall Park: Broadway & Murray
(Subways: N/R/W to City Hall, or 4/5/6 to Brooklyn Bridge)
On Saturday May 27, a body found in the East River was identified as Yu Mein Kenny Chow, devoted husband and father and a yellow cab owner-driver, who had been missing since May 11. Kenny was the fifth driver to kill himself in recent months because of financial ruin. The others were Nicanor Ochisor, a yellow taxi owner-driver who drove with his wife, Danilo Corporan Castillo, a Bronx livery driver who wrote his suicide note on a Taxi and Limousine Summons, Alfredo Perez, a Bronx livery driver, and Douglas Schifter, a black car driver who shot himself in front of City Hall after posting a note on Facebook saying that the city's failure to regulate Uber had destroyed his livelihood.
Meanwhile, an Economic Policy Institute study found that Uber drivers earn on average less than $10 an hour after expenses. No driver wins this vicious race to the bottom.
Since our demonstrations, several City Council bills have been introduced, including a cap on the number of FHV cars. But we need more. Our basic demands for fairness will go a long way in improving the lives of drivers and giving some comfort and peace to our families.
RALLY FOR CITY COUNCIL ACTION ON OUR DEMANDS
TUESDAY, MAY 29th
Outside City Hall Park: BROADWAY & MURRAY
(Subways: N/Q to City Hall, or 4/5/6 to Brooklyn Bridge)
OUR DEMANDS TO PROTECT FULL-TIME JOBS
1. Cap the number of vehicles & Don't replace diamonds as part-timers expire!
2. Require App companies to use the regulated taxi meter as the MINIMUM rate of fare! So no company can go lower and ALL Drivers - yellow, green, black, App - can benefit from a raise. AND THEN Enact an immediate raise: $2.60 drop; $3.25 per mile; JFK flat to $62.
3. Regulate Companies that lease or finance FHV cars: $350 per week cap for weekly leases; $275 per week (and no more than $42,900 in total) for lease to buy financing
4. Require App drivers get at minimum 80% of whichever fare is higher (the Upfront Pricing rate or the Uber/Lyft meter rate) On group rides: 80% Fare + $1 for each additional pick up
5. Program for Yellow Cab Medallion Owner-Drivers struggling with expenses as much as $6,000/month with 80% of loans under water. The city can call on lenders to lower interest rates and extend payments, waive licensing fees and find emergency grants to avoid foreclosures and bankruptcies. The Council must also establish a commission to oversee predatory lending and stop inflated values.
6. Cap TLC fines (no more than $400 per violation or $800 per incident or hearing) and put an end to suspensions/revocations at the same time as fines!
7. Fees on the App companies, not on App drivers! Council FHV Committee Chair Ruben Diaz said he will amend $2,000/yr & the 1 App requirement. Amended bill not published yet.
8. No Congestion Pricing on Drivers' backs! In the midst of this crisis, Albany passed a Congestion Pricing plan lobbied for by Wall Street. It's aimed at further destabilizing the taxi industry that has contributed over $1 billion toward the MTA since 2009 and rewarding Uber, Lyft business model that takes aim directly at mass transit.
9. Health and Benefits Fund, including retirement for all drivers.
NYTWA has also filed a Petition to TLC to get all drivers a raise ($4,000-$10,000/year on average) and first-time protections for App drivers. See our full proposal below to PROTECT OUR FULL-TIME JOBS!
WATCH NYTWA TESTIFY AT APRIL 30th CITY COUNCIL HEARING
READ OUR POLICY PLATFORM TO PROTECT FULL-TIME JOBS
Read our Policy Platform that we presented to City Council and The Mayor below, or at this link. Let's keep the momentum strong to WIN what we need, STOP the race to the bottom, and PROTECT our full-time jobs!
CALL YOUR COUNCIL MEMBER WITH OUR DEMANDS!!!
CLICK THE LINK TO THIS WEBSITE TO LOOK UP YOUR COUNCIL MEMBER BY ENTERING YOUR STREET ADDRESS & BOROUGH!
My name is __________ and I am a TLC licensed driver who drives (yellow/green/black car/livery/App - Uber, Lyft, Juno, etc.) and a member of the Taxi Workers Alliance. I WANT YOU TO REGULATE THE APP COMPANIES SO DRIVERS LIKE ME CAN PROTECT MY FAMILY BY HAVING A LIVABLE INCOME. PLEASE ADD DEMANDS WE NEED: a Cap on FHV cars and no replacement when diamonds expire; the yellow and green meter rate as the minimum rate App companies can charge, so ALL Drivers can get a raise, no matter what we drive! And regulations on the companies that sell or rent cars to App drivers, like a $350/week rental cap or $275/week for three years financing cap; and require Uber, Lyft and all App companies pay drivers 80% of the highest fare - whether it's the Upfront Pricing rate the passenger pays or the rate on the meter at the end of the ride. PLEASE TAKE OUT FROM THE BILL a requirement of $2,000/year vehicle license fee on the driver and the restriction that App drivers can only work for one company. WE NEED REAL CHANGE. DON'T LET UBER STOP THE CITY COUNCIL FROM PASSING REGULATIONS TO PROTECT OUR FULL-TIME JOBS!!!
WEDNESDAY APRIL 25th City Hall ACTION Day!
Keep up the Pressure:
City Hall Action Day on April 25th: 11am @ 250 Broadway to meet Council Members, then 2pm DEMONSTRATION @ Steps of City Hall!
Our City Hall Day of Action will coincide with the release of our 20+ points proposal for comprehensive change in the industry! We are building momentum to to protect full-time jobs and bring drivers out of the economic crisis! Read our Call to Action below, or at this link.
NYTWA STATEMENT ON CONGESTION PRICING
Congestion pricing on drivers' backs is an attack on a workforce already in crisis
Four drivers pushed to suicide by financial despair in the past four months
Statement from NYTWA Executive Director Bhairavi Desai:
Heartless and calculating politicians in Albany just launched a vicious attack on a workforce that has lost four drivers to suicide in the past four months. Drivers from every sector, yellow cab, black car, livery and Uber drivers themselves are facing foreclosures, bankruptcies and homelessness at an unprecedented rate. Yellow cabs have already contributed close to $1 billion toward the MTA since 2009. Meanwhile, Uber and its cohorts are getting a break on surcharges for the same pool trips that have driven down MTA ridership.
Albany is rewarding a business model that is directly trying to gut MTA ridership and is directly responsible for the congestion choking our streets. Once again Albany is letting Wall-Street bankrolled companies write the laws, while we bury drivers dead from financial despair. Politicians in the statehouse may be callous to this very real human suffering but we will continue to fight the devastating poverty Albany just landed on our feet. This fight is long from over.
Facts about Congestion Pricing:
The surcharge will create a deeper poverty among drivers who are facing the harshest economic conditions we have ever seen. There have been four driver suicides in four months, all due to despair from their deepening poverty.
- Two livery drivers, a black car driver and a yellow medallion taxicab owner-driver have committed suicide. Four driver suicides in four months - due to the economic crisis across the workforce.
- Adding a surcharge will reduce ridership. In fact, that is the stated goal of the surcharge. Reducing driver fares will be crushing.
- Drivers will also lose on vital tip earnings when riders skim on tipping to make up for higher fares.
- It will be impossible to raise the metered fare in order to give a raise to drivers in desperate need of higher earnings. The surcharge will have a crushing impact on driver incomes for years to come.
Yellow and green taxis have been paying their fair share to the MTA for years.
- Yellow cabs have contributed close to $1 billion toward the MTA since 2009.
- Yellow and green cabs are already required to pay a $0.50 surcharge per fare that is earmarked for the MTA.
- In 2015 alone, it was estimated that yellow cabs contributed $94 million to the MTA through the $0.50 surcharge.
- On top of the existing surcharge, yellow cab lease drivers pay a sales tax of $4.77 per shift on the vehicle lease which is also earmarked for the MTA.
- DRIVERS themselves have subsidized the $1 billion - paying the full amount even when the passenger pays by credit or debit card and the driver loses 5% on the transaction and paying for gasoline, and maintenance of the car.
Uber, Lyft & co. have been responsible for the drop in MTA revenue and congestion.
- While yellow and green cabs pay the $0.50 surcharge, Uber and Lyft only pay sales tax, of which 3/8 of 1% goes to the MTA.
- In one day, a double-shifted taxi that makes 25 trips per shift collects $34.54 in tax revenue, of which $27.40 directly funds the MTA. One the other hand, in one day of full-time work, an Uber car may bring in $20 in general sales tax, handing over only $0.75 to the MTA.
- Uber and Lyft meanwhile have targeted MTA passengers, further undercutting mass transit revenue.
- Uber, Lyft and other App-based dispatch companies operate a business model that depends on saturating the streets with vehicles so they can be the first to monopolize.
- Uber alone has 68,000 affiliated vehicles. Of the 13,500 taxis licensed in NYC, less than 10,000 are operational as bankruptcies and foreclosures spread.
Instead of holding them accountable, Albany is rewarding them.
- Given Uber, Lyft and co. subsidize fares to charge riders at below-cost - and that's despite having less than half the costs of regulated taxis - and because they operate group trips, the companies know a surcharge will not have the same effect on their ridership. These companies are also new entrants into the market, unlike regulated taxis which have expenses prior to their entry and are going through a crisis.
- Any further loss of revenue would devastate the taxi industry, giving Uber and Lyft a higher chance at monopolization.
- Until May 2017, Uber profitted off the sales tax by charging its commission on the tax amount. Uber also passed the cost of the tax onto the drivers, rather than adding it to the passenger's fare. For years, a tax obligation was turned into a windfall for Uber. Any congestion pricing charges in the FHV industry should not be passed onto the drivers and must come with strict enforcement against wage theft.
- Uber has spent $100,000 lobbying for a version of CP that would give it an advantage against both taxi, livery and black car competitors, as well as against the MTA itself. Albany, once again, got bought by Wall Street.
NYTWA MEMBERS RALLIED AT CITY HALL TO MOURN FOUR DRIVER SUICIDES AND DEMAND ACTION
On Wednesday, March 28, NYTWA members, including yellow cab, green car, black car, and app-dispatched drivers, gathered on the steps of City Hall to mourn four colleagues who committed suicide in the past four months and to demand immediate action by the Mayor. Drivers stood with Gabriel Ochisor, the son of Nicanor Ochisor, a yellow-taxi owner-driver who committed suicide on March 16th. Drivers gathered together to also honor and remember Danilo Corporan Castillo and Alfredo Perez, Bronx livery drivers, and Douglas Schifter, a black car driver.
All four drivers were pushed to financial ruin by unregulated Wall Street darlings Uber and Lyft, who in 2016 had more lobbyists than Walmart, Microsoft and Amazon combined. Meanwhile, an MIT study found more than half of Uber drivers earn below minimum wage.
We must stop treating the devastation of people's lives as inevitable. Wecannot allow Uber to continue to destroy lives for a business model that hasn't even been proven sustainable. We must come together now and demand protections for ALL drivers and for rational regulations that level the playing field.
Two days after the City Hall Demonstration, Mayor de Blasio said it was time to consider regulating companies like Uber and to put a cap on the number of for-hire-vehicles. We must continue to put pressure on our elected officials!
To see more photos from the City Hall demonstration as well as photos of members mobilizing for the action, please see our Facebook photo album featuring drivers from all sectors of the industry and all walks of life.
GOFUNDME CAMPAIGN FOR THE OCHISOR FAMILY
Nicanor, the most recent driver pushed to suicide, was an immigrant worker and a yellow taxi medallion owner-driver, who drove with his wife, an increasing pattern among drivers' families working around the clock without time to rest or recuperate with loved ones, adding to the crushing devastation of poverty. Nicanor lost his life savings and was pushed to financial ruin when New York City broke its promise to professional drivers. If you are interested in supporting the Ochisor family, they have started a GoFundMe campaign to pay off his medallion so his wife can finally retire.
KEEP UP THE PRESSURE: Sign the postcard demanding urgent action!
Dear Mayor DeBlasio, Speaker Johnson & Governor Cuomo:
I am a NYC TLC-licensed driver. Four of my fellow drivers killed themselves from the economic desperation we feel every day. We drivers are in a crisis. The Uber/Lyft & co. Wall Street business model is killing us. Every day, we are working longer hours, risking our health and safety, and getting more poor. Yellow taxi medallion owner-drivers are facing bankruptcy and foreclosure. Greencab drivers (majority permit holders) are seeing the market disappear in less than 3 years after it was first created through law and years of driver struggle. Traditional black car and livery drivers are in desperate scramble to find fares. Meanwhile, the drivers for Uber/Lyft & co. are barely making minimum wage. All 100,000 drivers are losing in a vicious race to the bottom. We ask you to hear our urgent plea and to stand with the workers, not with Wall Street. Support the demands of our New York Taxi Workers Alliance!
IN THE NAME OF OUR BROTHERS
The poverty caused by Uber/Lyft Wall Street business model and the Governor, Mayor, City Council & state legislature turning a blind eye to drivers’ suffering destroyed our brothers’ lives. NO MORE. Not one more driver death in vain. We cannot despair. We Must Organize.
On February 6, 2018 we held a vigil in honor of Douglas. In his final words, a suicide note he posted on Facebook, Douglas wrote that the saturation of for-hire-vehicles destroyed his full-time job and pushed him to financial ruin.
Read our OpEd in the New York Daily News
It’s an emergency for the city’s drivers: Start acting like it, Mr. Mayor
I’ve been to more hospital rooms, ERs, eviction proceedings, immigration hearings, police precincts and funeral homes than I can remember. When you organize taxi workers, it’s part of the drill.
But in my 21 years, this month was our first vigil for a driver who committed suicide due to the despair from a fleeting full-time job…
Watch our interview on Democracy Now! about Douglas' powerful post, the crisis facing drivers and the political structure that protects Wall Street's gig economy.
New York Times columnist Ginia Bellafante spoke to NYTWA about the increasing struggles faced by NYC drivers.
A Driver’s Suicide Reveals the Dark Side of the Gig Economy
In 2013, there were 47,000 for-hire vehicles in the city. Now there were more than 100,000, approximately two-thirds of them affiliated with Uber. While Uber has sold that “disruption” as positive for riders, for many taxi workers, it has been devastating.
Support NYTWA's work in 2018
2018 is NYTWA's 20th anniversary and we are reaching out to you, our community of allies, for your financial support. We are a union with a small budget staring down Wall Street titans during a historic economic shift. We are a grass-roots, predominantly immigrants of color, workers' organization that stood up to the biggest bully in the world when we went on strike at JFK Airport to oppose the Muslim ban. NYTWA works around the clock and organizes with a shoestring budget and staff. Now we need your support.
Even though we don't have dues check-off, twenty years ago, we set a goal that driver contributions would always make up the most of our revenue. In 2017, we are so proud to share with you that 87% of our revenue was from our mass base of drivers. Out of total revenue of $910,000 for the year, we raised $785,000 from our members. I have never seen drivers in more dismal poverty than the conditions today, yet they continue to choose to fund their union.
Our request comes with an urgency as we seek to launch our biggest campaign against Wall Street's Ubernomics and its policies of impoverishment. We're fighting against a new corporate model in which companies maintain Uber-like control over workers while stripping drivers of full-time pay and worker protections.
Though App-based work is less than 1% of the economy, these Wall Street darlings are waging war on workers across the country, fighting for legislation to destroy wage protections and corporate accountability. In 20 states, they have already won legislation precluding labor rights for all workers dispatched through an App. That means there is no floor on wages to stop the race to the bottom, no local law to regulate the industry, no federal protections for unionization.
Without mass mobilization of workers on the frontlines of this attack, simply put, our side can't win. Economic growth will constitute poor, part-time gigs with no worker safety nets and the anti-democratic attack on collective bargaining will strengthen. But workers have power to dawn a new day. And when we organize, we unleash that power.
2017 started with our JFK Airport Solidarity Strike against the Muslim ban on January 28, galvanizing solidarity in the fight against the politics of hate. We estimate drivers collectively chose to sacrifice close to $100,000 during the strike. Our opposition statement garnered 1 million views on Facebook alone and solidarity for our strike led to the unprecedented consumer-driven and directed campaign, #DeleteUber.
The moment demanded a fight back and our members, seasoned at organizing, heeded the call. The history books will forever note that a poor people's organization of largely Muslim workers and majority immigrants of color with a barebones budget led the first strike in the United States against the Trump presidency.
NYTWA as stood as the premiere organization fighting Wall Street's business model of misclassification and poverty gig work. NYTWA members also became the reason that Uber Technologies, the world's highest valuated company, had to make its biggest payout for wage theft - $80 million. NYTWA members' federal lawsuit has had Uber running scared. In another case, our members - whose claims gathered dust until we sued the Governor - and their attorneys also won the first ruling by a NYS Law Judge declaring drivers to be employees eligible for Unemployment Insurance. One of our members effectively qualified for unemployment after earning poverty pay - during one week, Jeff brought home as little as a penny in income. Our ultimate victory was the game-changing win of unemployment benefits for these workers - meaning they were classified as employees of Uber.
We aren't resting after our recent victories. Instead, we are building momentum. But we need more resources to keep winning. We have a staff of only seven full-time and two part-time to organize for a 100,000-workforce, serving 15,000 drivers who walk into our office in need of help every year and answering an average 200 calls per day. Today, more than ever, we need your support. On the day of the Uber payout announcement we received more than 500 calls -- in a single business day. There have been many days like that since. And yet our Benefits Department that fields most incoming calls remains at just four full-time staff.
Drivers have started a national conversation on the gig economy and pointed to the corrupt architecture that connects technology, politics and corporate interests. The continued mobilization of taxi workers - yellow, Uber/Lyft, greencab and livery drivers - is critical to protecting democratic principles of collective action and rights.
Will you compliment the efforts of drivers to finance and staff a union working to amplify and protect the rights of millions of poor people by making a donation and helping us reach our goal of $50,000?
Every driver who calls is a potential new member who has much to give to the struggle.
Every dollar we collect will be used in our fight for justice, rights, respect and dignity for 100,000 taxi worker families.