At their annual meeting, taxicab operators in the Western Washington Taxi Cab Operators Association (WWTCOA) voted unanimously to join Teamsters Local 117 as full-fledged union members.
The vote took place during the annual meeting on July 27 at the Teamsters Hall in Tukwila.
In the packed Teamsters Hall conference room, drivers significantly boosted their ability to organize and build power. For the first time these drivers have a path to bargain a contract with dispatch companies.
This vote is historic on multiple levels. It marks the first time that taxi cab operators in the United States have been able to join a union as independent contractors.
Gaining full union membership gives these workers new tools to improve their wages and working conditions.
Not only are Local 117 resources available to these drivers, but they also gain the strength of the broader labor community through the Martin Luther King County Labor Council, which represents over 75,000 union members across the region.
The WWTCOA has existed since 2012 organizing taxicab operators around issues impacting the industry. Over the years, the membership has grown into the hundreds. They have successfully passed legislation at multiple levels, improving their working conditions.
Last winter, WWTCOA members were instrumental to passing the Seattle law giving collective bargaining rights to drivers classified as independent contractors. This law laid the groundwork to joining Local 117.
These new union members have access to all the Teamsters benefits, such as life with dues, full representation, and the collective power to influence public policy.
Companies such as Uber and Lyft have disrupted the taxi industry. Many taxicab operators fear losing the ability to earn family wages, as they compete on an unbalanced playing field. Now, more than ever, these workers saw the need to take collective action and unionize.
“We are so happy to be Teamsters,” said Makonnen Belaynehe, an taxi owner-driver member of the WWTCOA leadership council. “we are fighting for so many issues, and with the power of the union, we have the ability to create real progress.”
Help us welcome these hundreds of new Teamsters to our union!