Chicago Cab Drivers Begin Innovative Peer Advocate Program

CHICAGO, IL – In early March, members of Cab Drivers United/AFSCME Council 31 came together to complete a Driver Advocate training program, which adapted Council 31’s traditional steward training to meet the needs of a non-traditional workforce.

This program was designed to provide them the tools and knowledge necessary to assist fellow drivers stand up for their rights as they navigate the court system set up by the City of Chicago to enforce taxi regulations.  The court, commonly referred to by its address, “400 W. Superior,” has long been a source of outrage among the drivers who feel powerless to defend themselves in the face of a city machine designed to extract revenue and deny them basic due process rights..

“We’re learning how to assist drivers with various issues at 400 West Superior.  Over the years, I’ve noticed at 400 West Superior, drivers are treated very badly as a rule” said John Hilt, a veteran cab driver and Cab Drivers United/AFSCME Council 31 member.

“They’re often charged fines that they don’t have to pay.  Many of them don’t understand their rights, or even simple procedures, and so they’re very easily taken advantage of” continued Hilt.

Cab Drivers United/AFSCME C31 is operating on two fronts.; pushing for regulatory changes to make the system more just; and advocating within the system to ensure drivers are treated with respect.The program looks to graduate about 30 Driver Advocates, and will enable graduates to help their colleagues take charge in a system designed to confuse and intimidate.

Just days after completing the training two driver advocates, Ezz Abdelmagid and Michael Agunloye put their new skills in action to help a rookie cab driver prepare for his hearing and get the case against him dismissed.