WASHINGTON (PAI) - In the latest instance of a group of low-wage, hard-to-organize workers banding together and joining unions, taxi drivers in Washington, D.C., are joining Teamsters Local 922.
In a mass meeting at the Teamsters local's hall in the industrial Northeastern section of the Nation's Capitol, the taxi drivers spoke about their problems on the job: Having to pay for their own tires, insurance and maintenance as "independent contractors," as owners or while leasing their taxis.
Despite that, they're still under control of the taxi companies. The typical driver works 16-hour days, seven days a week and nets $25,000-$30,000 yearly.
At least 1,000 of the 6,000 taxi drivers in D.C. have signed up to join the association and the local. They want to claim "a united, collective voice for positive change in their industry," the union said.
New taxi rules in D.C., including a recent change to meters, D.C. Taxi Commission orders that all cabbies must take credit cards as well as cash, and requirements to have the cabbies replace their dome lights - at their expense - and repaint all their cabs in a red-and-gray scheme, also prompted the move.
"The drivers approached the Teamsters because they need to have input on regulations before they take effect. They want a stronger voice and more representation on the taxi commission," the union said.
Photo: A taxi in D.C. AP