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 Uniting Cabdrivers of Chicago

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Chicago Dispatcher

Posts : 10
Join date : 2008-01-10

PostSubject: Uniting Cabdrivers of Chicago   2/4/2008, 11:56 am

From the Chicago Dispatcher, February 2008

Uniting Cabdrivers of Chicago
Finding common ground to work with different groups that want to organize
By George Lutfallah

Different groups of Chicago taxi drivers have been working to get organized. Some are organizing culturally, some by religion. Some drivers who own their own medallions are talking about forming their own groups. Other groups have started up to organize taxi drivers generally. Most of these groups have different strategies on how to organize but virtually all the taxi drivers I've talked to who are interested in organizing seem to agree on at least one thing - that taxi drivers should be organized and that all Chicago taxi drivers should find ways to work together for common purposes.

For all of these groups to eventually come together, I believe it is important for there to be a general framework of principals for each of these groups to stand on to minimize conflicts if and when they do work with each other. I believe the following principals are necessary if different groups of Chicago taxi drivers are to work together for common goals:

–Their membership should be made up exclusively of licensed Chicago cabdrivers. While their groups don't necessarily have to be inclusive of all cabdrivers, they should not include people who are not licensed Chicago cabdrivers.

It will complicate things and lead to conflicts of interest if groups include CTA bus drivers, limo drivers, shuttle bus drivers, pizza delivery drivers, carpenters or chemists. I believe that Chicago cabdrivers have issues that are unique to them. While they may have things in common with other drivers, there are natural conflicts that would arise and create unnecessary complications. Take a fare increase for example. Do you know who wants Chicago taxi drivers to get a fare increase even more than Chicago taxi drivers? Limo drivers. I can guarantee you that limo drivers would want cabdrivers to have a huge fare increase to the point where people would want to stop taking cabs and start taking limos.

–Their organization should be democratic. No self-appointed leaders.

–They shouldn't accept help from outside organizations that try to dictate to them or even suggest that certain cabdrivers are not welcome at their meetings.

–They shouldn't accept help from outside organizations that impose their ideology of class discrimination as a condition of their support (for example, by telling you that drivers who own their own medallions are inferior to lease drivers).

–Both drivers and outside organizations that are aiding them shouldn't attempt to defame or generally show contempt for other taxi drivers or taxi driver groups who are trying to organize.

–They shouldn't accept help from outside organizations that attempt to divide drivers by encouraging them to defame other driver groups simply because they have a different ideology.

–They shouldn't accept help from outside organizations that aren't candid up-front with their intentions. Outside organizations should state their intentions clearly and indicate what's in it for them. If they intend to eventually get a cut of union dues for example, they need to state that up front. In my opinion, it isn't a deal killer for an outside organization to find a way to make money for themselves if they actually do help drivers. However, for me it is a deal killer if they don't disclose this up front and try to make drivers think that they're just doing this out of the kindness of their hearts.

–Chicago cabdriver groups should accept the rights of other groups who fit the above criterion to organize themselves.

–Chicago cabdriver groups should agree that Chicago cabdrivers collectively need representation to address laws, ordinances, rules and regulations, and their applications and that this representation should be decided by Chicago cabdrivers democratically.

These are some basic principals that I think will be necessary to mitigate conflict between different groups down the line, should groups ever put themselves in a position to work with each other.
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