Local 117 is on the forefront of a new effort by the Teamsters Union to organize thousands of taxicab operators across the country.
Last year, Local 117 organized over 500 Puget Sound taxi drivers into the Western Washington Taxicab Operators Association (WWTCOA). The WWTCOA, founded last June, works closely with Local 117 to protect the rights and improve working conditions for taxicab operators throughout our region.
One of the major challenges facing taxi drivers is the excessive burden of fees and taxes imposed on them by the multiple regulatory agencies that govern their business. Taxicab operators often start their workweek more than $1,000 in the hole.
Classified as “independent contractors”, they receive no health insurance, no vacation, no retirement – no benefit of any kind.
That is starting to change thanks to the drivers' partnership with the Teamsters. Local 117 has helped achieve discounts for WWTCOA members on batteries, oil and fluids as well as tires. Local 117 is working with the drivers to secure savings on insurance rates for association members.
At the Teamster Unity Conference, held this week in Las Vegas, Local Unions from across the country gathered to discuss how to fight back in the war on workers and how the union can grow. Several Locals were specifically looking at the experience and expertise that Local 117 has gained in its successful organizing of taxicab operators.
Salah Mohamed, a 13-year driver with Yellow Cab and an elected member of the WWTCOA Leadership Council, spoke at the conference about how the Teamsters have helped Puget Sound taxicab operators gain a voice in the workplace and improve their lives so that they can better support their families.
“Before we joined with the Teamsters, we didn’t have any control over our working conditions,” he said. ”Now, with the help of our brothers and sisters at Local 117, we lobby to change laws, we’ve met with the mayor, the city council, and state legislators to discuss critical issues, and we are working together to lower our insurance rates. We couldn’t have done that without the Teamsters.”