Drivers demanding fair working conditions and reinstating of their terminated coworker Ali Sugule (left).
“Unfair!” “Justice!” Loud voices of taxi drivers resonated across the parking garage at SeaTac Airport yesterday. East Side for Hire management stared in bitter frustration at drivers who exercised their right to collectively voice their issues with their dispatch company and the Port of Seattle who contracts with Eastside by suspending work for an hour. It was their second day demonstrating against inhumane working conditions and unjust retaliation by the company. Eastside for Hire has failed to reinstate the 18 drivers who were unjustly suspended for participating in a demonstration on August 21rst.
"I lived in Europe for 5 years and never saw bathrooms like that. Is this America or a third world country?"
Eastside for Hire taxi drivers have no choice but work extremely long hours just to earn enough to meet their operating expenses.
“Our working conditions are bad. We have to work 16-18 hours everyday to try to make ends meet,” said Ali Sugule, who has been terminated by Eastside in retaliation for bringing his grievances in front of Port Commissioners at a public hearing. Drivers have no time left to spend with their families or for adequate rest.
On top of that, at an airport that ranks as the 8th busiest in the country and welcomes over 45 million passengers a year (according to Port of Seattle), the bathrooms for drivers are unsanitary and display a disgusting state of disrepair. “I lived in Europe for 5 years and never saw bathrooms like that. Is this America or a third world country?” commented Shakil Ahmad, one of the drivers who was suspended from work after the strike on Monday.
This is not a new issue, the Port and Eastside for Hire have been aware of the bathroom issues for a very long time. Attempts to speak with officials to bring change to the situation have not yielded results. It should be noted however that Port Commissioner Fred Felleman has been working hard to resolve this issue. Drivers are hoping this will result in positive change. But given all the time that has passed and the continuing deterioration of working conditions their patience has reached its limits.
King 5 reporter speaking to drivers about their struggle with Eatside for Hire.