The Western Washington Taxicab Operators Association (WWTCOA) showed its strength at the second Local 117 lobby day on February 21. Over 50 taxicab operators from all of the area’s major taxi companies turned out to lobby legislators on two bills that would help resolve important issues facing drivers in the industry.
Working in teams of 8-12, WWTCOA members met with legislators throughout the day to educate them on a bill that seeks to protect taxi drivers from violators that are undercutting their fares, and a bill that would readjust the Labor and Industries rates currently paid by taxicab operators.
“The L&I rates are too high. We have to pay $522 every three months and most of us don’t even have health insurance,” said Mohamed Salah, a 13-year driver with Yellow Airport. Salah is an elected member of the WWTCOA Leadership Council. The Leadership Council has been working closely with Teamsters 117 to ease the regulatory burden in the industry and improve working conditions for Puget Sound taxi operators.
“We’ve been pushed to the edge and now we are lobbying with the Teamsters to get our rights back,” said Parminder Cheema, a driver who has worked in the industry for 10 years.
The event was organized by Local 117’s Legislative Affairs Department. Local 117 Political Action Coordinator Lily Wilson-Codega provided members with a short training prior to the visits, while intern Nathan Fitzgerald scheduled appointments with the legislators.
Taxicab operators were not alone in their efforts to educate legislators on issues they face at work. The WWTCOA members were joined by over twenty members of Teamsters Local 117 from other industries who promoted the two taxi bills as a part of a broader legislative agenda that was developed by the Union to support working families in the State of Washington.
The next Local 117 Lobby Day will take place on March 21. If you are interested in participating, please contact Political Action Coordinator Lily Wilson-Codega at 206-794-2606.