Monday, January 28, 2013

Local 1181 of the Amalgamated Transit Union Fighting For Their Lives

I gotta to hand it to The New York Times - they sure know how to get the laughs. I was really impressed by this headline about the school bus drivers' strike:

Still on Strike, a Bus Union Sees a Threat to Its Culture

Something out of National Geographic, right?

Eating on the regular. Having a place to stay. Working your way up the ladder. Stuff like that. 
 I do hope the bus drivers win!

I work in an industry where the employees are not even considered to be employees, where the management can manipulate any driver's status at will, everything from simply not granting him or her the keys to a car without any explanation, to cutting the hours by making the driver wait to find out if he's working, to giving the driver a good car or a lousy car, etc. Unconfirmed rumor has it that some taxi drivers even bribe individuals in management to assure themselves of regular work in safe vehicles.

Yeah, the nerve of these guys wanting more than I have. Clearly anyone who works ought to work under taxi driver conditions, right? Wrong. Be strong or be a slave.

Cabbies' bosses pull a 'Louie'

Dispatcher payoffs

  • Last Updated: 11:50 AM, May 24, 2010
  • Posted: 4:37 AM, May 24, 2010
The spirit of Louie De Palma lives on.
Thousands of cabbies are dealing with the real-life version of Danny DeVito's infamous dispatcher from the 1980s sitcom "Taxi," an amoral boss who would demand cash from his drivers to score a yellow cab for a hard day's work.
Clearly flouting Taxi and Limousine Commission rules, it's still an unspoken mandate that drivers handsomely tip garage dispatchers to get cars that aren't total jalopies -- and, in some instances, to get a car at all.
Taxi officials say they're on the case.
"In light of TLC regulations prohibiting such behavior, reports of tips being tacitly solicited by fleet employees are disturbing and will be investigated," said spokesman Allan Fromberg.
DOUBLE PUMP: In addition to getting squeezed by doormen, hacks must pay dispatchers who, like Danny DeVito's 'Taxi' character, demand 'tips' for cars.
James Messerschmidt
DOUBLE PUMP: In addition to getting squeezed by doormen, hacks must pay dispatchers who, like Danny DeVito's "Taxi" character, demand "tips" for cars.
The Post observed cabbies tipping the dispatchers at two locations -- Midtown Operating Corp. in Queens and Gotham Yellow LLC in The Bronx -- and industry insiders say it happens at nearly all 67 garages in the city.
Undercover taxi agents issued a summons to Gotham Yellow last Tuesday after investigating reports of "required" tipping, sources said.
The owner of the garage will go to a hearing and could be hit with a $500 fine, which jumps to $1,000 if a staffer is caught in the act again. The administrative-law judge may also make the owner pay restitution to the driver, TLC rules say.
Scores of drivers line up during shift changes to nab a cab for the day, greasing the palms of dispatchers behind plexiglass screens with sums ranging from $3 to $15.
TLC rules state, "No owner, including any employee or agent of an owner, may charge to or accept from a driver a . . . tip or fee of any kind, for the lease of a medallion or of a medallion and a vehicle."
But many drivers say not tipping means waiting hours for a car and ultimately getting the most rickety rides in the fleet.
"You shouldn't have to tip, but when you're a new driver, it's hard to get a car. So you give more tips to dispatcher," said driver Moustapha Kouanda, who said he used to give $5 a day and is now down to about $3.
In one egregious case, The Post observed dispatcher David Budd at Midtown Operating accepting cash from drivers. When asked about the exchange, he said he wasn't ripping off the hacks.
"We just make change for them. That's all," he said, before driving away.
The garage's owner, Ron Sherman, is not only president of the Metropolitan Taxicab Board of Trade, the group representing fleet owners, but also owns CMT, one of three companies that provide credit-card electronics for yellow cabs.
His spokesman, Michael Woloz, insisted Budd was tipped because he does a good job and not "in association with the leasing of a vehicle or medallion, per Midtown's policy."
"Drivers tip. They're tipping the gas man, the mechanic. It's in the culture. There's no special consideration given to anyone because there's a tip," Woloz said.
Earlier this month, The Post exposed how greedy hotel doormen routinely make drivers tip them for everyday airport fares.