On Sunday, May 19, The New York Times published a scathing investigative series on the financial crisis for yellow cab owner drivers that profiled NYTWA members Mohammed Hoque and Mohammad Hossain. On the same day, The New York Daily News published a story on how Uber and Lyft have destroyed incomes for yellow cab drivers.
NYTWA Executive Director Bhairavi Desai said, “We’ve been sounding the alarm on the crisis of suicides, foreclosures, and bankruptcies among our city’s professional drivers for years. The story of our yellow taxi owner-driver members is finally front page news. The rich got richer and the city raked in profit while working-class immigrant drivers of color were swindled and pushed into financial despair. It shouldn’t have taken nine suicides and thousands of families destroyed for people to listen, but we are determined to end this crisis.”
NYTWA, the union for all professional drivers in New York City, has been working one-on-one with our owner-driver members on loan restructuring, but we’ve also proposed solutions that will end the financial crisis hurting thousands of hard-working drivers who are struggling to get by every day.
Our demands for yellow cab owner-drivers include:
Debt forgiveness. NYC Council should establish a permanent taskforce to provide oversight of the medallion lending market and determine the current market value, and oversee a program to forgive all loan amounts that exceed the value determined by the taskforce. For example, if the value is determined to be $250,000, an outstanding loan of $500,000 would be slashed in half.
Cap medallion mortgage payments. Medallion mortgage payments should be capped at $900 a month.
Exempt yellow taxis from congestion surcharge. The congestion surcharge has caused a downturn in ridership at a time when drivers are struggling more than ever. Yellow taxis did not create the crisis of congestion and the surcharge is one more way the government is extracting wealth from those who can least afford it.
Regulate the rate of fare across the industry. There should be one regulated metered rate of fare across all sectors so that Uber and Lyft cannot starve app drivers to starve taxi drivers. And drivers need a modest increase in fares that goes solely into their pockets, not into state or city coffers.
Retirement fund so drivers can retire with dignity. Thousands of elderly drivers have seen their retirements wiped out as banks and the city allowed medallion values to bubble and then crash. Drivers in their 70s are continuing to work 7 days a week with no end in sight. The City needs to establish a retirement fund for all drivers.
- Bhairavi Desai: “We’ve been sounding the alarm on the crisis of suicides, foreclosures, and bankruptcies among our city’s professional drivers for years. The story of our yellow taxi owner-driver members is finally front page news.”