Chicago cab drivers face injustice, organize Cab Drivers United-AFSCME Council 31

For decades, Chicago’s cab drivers have been voiceless. Faced with an overhaul of the city’s taxi regulations in 2012 that introduced burdensome regulations, amounting to the average cab driver seeing $7,531 less income annually, drivers are coming together to build strength and make their voices heard.

To highlight the issues facing Chicago’s cab drivers, AFSCME Council 31 released a report based on over 400 driver interviews and information gathered from the city through Freedom of Information requests, at a press conference at City Hall on Wednesday June 11th.

For Boualem Tchekrabi, a veteran cab driver with 18 years behind the wheel, one of the most pressing issues is the lack of due process drivers find when they attempt to fight a ticket or fine at the Department of Administrative Hearings (DOAH), they feel they were wrongly issued. 

“Regardless of whether you are guilty of a rule violation, it’s your fault. Many of us have received tickets for something as small as a blown taillight, but instead of the City giving us a warning to get it fixed, we are issued a ticket and have to go to a hearing at 400 West Superior (DOAH). But when we arrive, before ever seeing a judge, we are told my someone from the Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection that if we do not settle for several hundred dollars, we will face the maximum fine and could loose our license” said Tchekrabi.

“There is no justice for taxi drivers, we are just looking for equal treatment but instead, we are treated like second rate citizens” continued Tchekrabi.

“Cab drivers are the lifeblood of Chicago, but the City constantly squeezes us for revenue because we aren’t unified. When a driver is treated unfairly and not given the rights and respect he deserves, we’re on our own to fight back” said Maxwell Akenten a cab driver from the South Side of Chicago who has been driving for the last four years.

“I can’t do it alone. Unity is strength, without unity there’s nothing we can do” continued Akenten.

Chicago Sun-Times - Emanuel's taxi reforms cost average cabdriver $7,500: study

Chicago Tribune - AFSCME helping Chicago cab drivers push for greater voice