When Immigrants Drive the City
When Immigrants Drive the City
What's happening in this industry, that's what I've observed in my 20 years of life working in New York City, is it is a completely biased system against taxi drivers and the reason behind this is all the news station knows that 99% of drivers are immigrants in this industry. And city knows very well, everybody is recording there in the Taxi and Limousine Commission knows very well who has what, what kind of status they have. And that’s why they are abusing them, they are using them, by putting new regulations every day.
Host: Welcome to the Working Class Heroes Podcast, I am your host, Leah Ramirez, and this is episode 2.
Host: In episode one, Carlos and Julian reported on the crisis in the New York City Taxi Industry. They told us about what taxi drivers consider a war over the future of the industry. This is a war between Taxi drivers and app companies like Uber and Lyft. Immigrant communities are on the forefront of this war making up a majority of the driver workforce. On October 1st of 2018, another immigrant driver committed suicide.
Host: Fausto Luna, was the first Uber driver to commit suicide following the suicides of several black and yellow car drivers. Luna was born and raised in the Dominican Republic and an Uber driver since 2013.
New York City Taxi drivers haven’t always been immigrants but beginning in the 1980’s, the taxi labor force dramatically shifted from a largely native born workforce to one where less than 10% are native born. Even though New York City has always had a large immigrant community, they have largely been seen by the city’s elite as a community to exploit, scapegoat or use and abuse for their own selfish gains. In this episode, Carlos and Julian are reporting back on the challenges these immigrant Taxi drivers face in their fight against Uber, Lyft, and the TLC.
CP: We stepped out of the train on 86th and Lex. at midnight. This normally busy commercial area was dead quiet at this time of night. We walked 4 blocks and came to a diner on york avenue.
JG: We stepped into the diner and we took a booth at the back by one of the large windows facing the street. We had chosen this diner because it was right by a taxi relief station, which are hard to come by in the city. The driver that we’re meeting, Mohammed Ali, was actually part of episode 1. We heard him speak about the medallion and his conditions driving as a lease driver. We had met ali at 250 Broadway where the nyc taxi alliance was organizing a lobbying effort to put pressure on the city council to take some action around the plight of yellow cab drivers in the face of Uber’s growth. Ali was in that room with us where that driver let out that rant over his working conditions. Even though Ali drives long hours in his yellow cab, he still made it a priority to come to city council and let them know what they’ve been dealing with. We had been sitting in the restaurant for about 10 minutes when Ali’s car pulled up into the rest area. We packed our stuff and we stepped out.
CP: We greeted Ali, thanked him for his time and he invited us inside of his Taxi cab. Me and julian stepped in and we began the interview.
“Um, its 12:42, uh, May 8th, and i’m speaking to, what’s your name?”
MA: Mohammed Ali Awan