September 29, 2015
By David Kreisman Reprinted: http://www.afscme.org
Chicago, Illinois – Cab service at Chicago’s two major airports came to a halt for nearly two hours on Sept. 23 during a job action led by members of Cab Drivers United/AFSCME Local 2500. Their work stoppage was in protest to Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s proposal to allow Uber and Lyft access to the airports without having to follow rules governing taxi drivers.
“Uber provides the exact same service as licensed cab drivers, but nothing in the mayor’s proposal makes them play by the same rules we do,” said Cheryl Miller, a veteran Chicago cab driver and member of Cab Drivers United/AFSCME Local 2500.
Miller, among the licensed cab drivers who refused to pick up passengers at Midway and O’Hare airports, said they are required to go to school to receive their chauffeur’s license, undergo extensive background checks and drug tests, and their cabs are inspected twice a year by a city-approved garage. Not only does this reassure the public that the person driving them and the car they’re riding in are safe, it ensures the high level of professionalism the public has come to expect. The mayor’s proposal doesn’t include any of these provisions.
Godwin Anetekhai, a taxi owner/operator and member of Cab Drivers United, said AFSCME Local 2500 recently released a plan “showing how the city could raise $65 million a year just by making Uber follow the rules. Our plan would also provide concrete protections for good jobs and public safety. Instead, the mayor would give a sweetheart deal to a $50 billion corporation while hurting Chicago cab drivers who live and work throughout our city.”
Anetekhai added that licensed drivers “pay thousands of dollars in fees to stay in compliance each and every year” but that Mayor Emanuel’s proposal “would allow Uber to provide the same service I do, but without following the rules. It unfairly penalizes small business owners like me who work hard to build a business and contribute to our city.”
“Last year, drivers formed our union with AFSCME because our voices weren’t being heard by the city,” Miller added. “We took action today to send a strong message to Mayor Emanuel that our importance cannot be overlooked. We keep Chicago running, and it’s high time we’re treated with the respect we deserve.”