Chicago’s Cab Drivers Get Hearing in Community

In just five months of organizing, more than 3,500 Chicago cab drivers signed up with Cab Drivers United/AFSCME Council 31, coming together to change the system that denies them a decent living and the due process and respect they deserve.

And now the Chicago community is taking notice. Speaking to community leaders and labor and legal experts, Cheryl Miller, a cab driver with 20 years behind the wheel, described an unjust system seemingly set up to squeeze every last dollar out of cab drivers.

“Instead of seeing us as hard-working people who play a vital role in helping to keep our amazing city great, we are treated as second-class citizens without legal, civil or social rights,” Miller said, “even to the extreme point of being treated as criminals for simply picking up and dropping off our passengers.”

In September, more than 400 drivers rallied outside the administrative court drivers must visit after receiving a ticket.

Drivers outlined several areas where the commissioner who oversees the city’s taxi industry could make concrete changes to improve the lives of the 12,000 drivers.

“We have met with the commissioner,” Miller continued. “She is aware that she has the authority to clarify rules, issue directives that common sense dictates be used in issuing citations, and set fines. She can mandate that due process applies and require courteous treatment toward drivers … (and) promote a culture of respect.”

Following their show of strength in September and several meetings with the commissioner, Mayor Rahm Emanuel, in a joint release with Cab Drivers United/AFSCME Council 31, announced the Taxi Driver Fairness Ordinance of 2014. The ordinance focuses on several key areas drivers highlighted that inflict an unbearable burden on their small businesses and families.

As they gather community support, the drivers are eagerly waiting to hear when the ordinance will be taken up by the City Council.