Real Seattle Taxi
Friday, July 22, 2016
Seattle Taxi News Report: Totally New Medallion Lottery Draw & More Sea-Tac Award Details & New Licensing Office
This past Wednesday I attended the Summer 2016 TAG (Taxi Advisory Group) meeting and glad I did because for once it was both informative and helpful. And for once I wasn’t the only Yellow connection in attendance, my WAT (wheelchair taxi) friend Dawit and Sadik M.from the Supt’s office also shared the table. Many things are happening concurrently, including the ability to form a collective-bargaining Union. I attended (along with Dawit) the City’s last information session and there is a definitive timetable. More on that later.
One important development is the legal action taken by the United States Chamber of Commerce on behalf of Uber questioning Seattle’s ability to proceed ahead with its plans, a court hearing that also occurred this week. You might notice that not once have the US Chamber of Commerce intervened on our behalf. According to them, we don’t exist, and if they have their way, we won’t.
Also, it is amusing to report that ex-US Attorney General Eric Holder went to work for Uber, currently at odds with the City of Chicago. Watch out for those Liberals. You know how much they love you! Head on over to City Hall and get a big hug!
New License Lottery
Whether it makes any sense to add yet more taxis to an already struggling business environment, the City of Seattle will be operating yet another lottery with a completely new drawing of numbers, meaning that if you had a high number last time, you will have another real and viable opportunity to get one of, I believe, 110 new medallions that will be released in either late 2016 or early 2017. Rules have changed and when I have the time, I will look them up and tell you all about them.
New Sea-Tac Out-Bound Award Contract
As usual, meaning as usual with anything pertaining to the taxi industry, confusion and contrary reports reign supreme. Reports are rampant that Eastside-for-Hire is having difficulty signing up the required 200 or more cab operators due to higher than expected costs. The City of Seattle reports that there will be a $7.00 charge per out-bound Sea-Tac trip per taxi. My colleague who wrote the Eastside bid says it is not true. He says the final per trip price is a function of how many trips are provided over an annual year. Got that?
Eastside guaranteed $4 million per year per 800,000 trips. The trip total expected now is up to 920,000. There is a future projection of $6 million for one million trips completed. How all of this is affected by “short-hauls” I have no idea. Stay tuned because if the current Yellow operators decide this isn’t a good deal, I think there is a remote possibility that the Port of Seattle will have to revisit their decision.
What has never made sense to me is why the Port of Seattle thinks Eastside will, or can be better managers than Yellow. Yes, as I said previously, Yellow messed up but does it warrant such a dramatic change in the players. If everything proceeds as expected, all the Sea-Tac Yellow cabs will be re-branded as “E-Cabs” with their black and grey coloring. I know the color scheme because the past two months the one solitary “E-Cab” in current existence has been visiting the train station in repeated attempts to steal fares. Does anything truly change in Taxi-Land? No!
Forget About South Dearborn Street
All of the functions, other than meter testing, has been transferred up to the Seattle Municipal Tower, 700 5th Avenue, on the entire 42nd floor. No, your cab will not fit into the elevator. You will have to find a parking space and take the elevators. Good luck not getting lost!
Seattle taxi medallion lottery
Officials at the Port of Seattle have notified airport taxi drivers of a plan to force drivers into debt for unpaid per-trip fees, the collection of which had been suspended during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It’s unconscionable that, after receiving a $192.1 million taxpayer-funded bailout, the Port of Seattle can’t find a way to help low-wage immigrant workers who are struggling to keep food on the table and a roof over their families’ heads during this crisis,” said John Scearcy, Secretary-Treasurer of Teamsters Local 117. “The fact that they announced their debt pay-back plan as a Friday afternoon news dump on International Workers Day just adds insult to injury.”
“It’s unconscionable that. the Port of Seattle can’t find a way to help low-wage immigrant workers.”
Port Executive Director Stephen Metruck had previously announced at a March 24 Port Commission meeting that the Port would “grant a 3 month waiver of fees charged for each trip from the Airport” (see video minute 8:13), to mitigate the impact of the COVID-19 crisis on a low-wage, immigrant workforce that lacks any safety net.
The Port later reversed course and said the fee waiver would only be a deferral, despite the Port being awarded a $192.1 million COVID bailout from the federal government in mid-April.
“After working seven hours yesterday, I came home with only $7 – and now the Port wants me to repay $6 of that back in fees,” said Sasha Nazari who supports his wife and son working as an Airport taxi driver. “I don’t have money to pay the mortgage. I received a shut-off notice on my electricity. Where am I going to get the money?”
Under the new taxi debt plan announced on May 1, if drivers are unable to repay trip fees by January 31, they would accrue interest and risk losing their job at the Airport.
Unemployment Guide for Taxi & Flat-Rate Drivers
Starting on Saturday, April 18 th at 8PM, taxi and flat-rate drivers can begin applying for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance.
STEP 1: APPLY (AND GET DENIED) FOR REGULAR STATE UNEMPLOYMENT
“Get denied so you can be approved.” It sounds weird, but it’s true.
In order to unlock access to federal Covid-19 PUA (Pandemic Unemployment Assistance), you must first apply (and get denied) for regular state unemployment.
There are two ways:
- Online at https://secure.esd.wa.gov/home/(Easiest way. Use computer or laptop to register.)
- By phone at 1-800-318-6022 (very long wait times)
Many questions on the application won’t make sense to your job, but answer to the best of your ability. If driving taxi or flat-rate is your only job, DO NOT list any employer on your application.
If you experience technical difficulties with your online user account, click here.
STEP 2: SUBMIT A COVID-19 PUA CLAIM & PROVIDE DOCUMENTATION
After you have been denied regular state unemployment, an alert will show up in your online account allowing you to Apply for a Covid-19 PUA Claim. When you apply, you need to submit documentation of your earnings for the past year. So you should compile that documentation before you apply. The best types of documentation include your 2019 tax filing, 1099 forms, or other formal tax documentation.
After you have applied, you will start earning $835/week right away, which is the minimum payment under the PUA program ($235/wk base payment + $600/wk enhancement).
Once a claims agent has reviewed and verified your earnings documentation, you will then be paid your full benefit amount, including retroactive payments back dated to March 29 or your date of eligibility.
STEP 3: FILE WEEKLY CLAIMS
File a claim every week to continue receiving benefits.
Airport contract update and next steps
As you know, the Port signed the taxi contract with Eastside for Hire earlier this month. Now we must continue our fight to hold Eastside and the Port accountable.
We worked hard to pressure the Port to include “labor harmony” language in the contract. That language provides three important protections for drivers:
- Eastside must negotiate a “Labor Peace Agreement” with your Union within 60 days.
- Eastside must keep all drivers currently working at the airport for 180 days.
- The Port must review drivers’ income every six months and can reopen the contract if they find drivers aren’t making a living wage.
If you see that Eastside or the Port is not upholding these protections, we need to be ready to take action.
To prepare for the upcoming negotiations with Eastside, we will be holding meetings to discuss your priorities. It is important that we have good attendance at those meetings so that your collective voice is heard. We will let you know as soon as the meetings are scheduled.
We will continue to fight to make sure that all taxicab operators are able to earn a living wage. Please let me know if Eastside violates the terms of their contract with the Port.
Fare Times – Fall Issue 2016
The fall issue of our Fare Times newsletter is now available. The Fare Times provides news and information for Teamster taxicab operators.
In this issue, we have an update on the airport contract that the Port signed with Eastside For Hire this month.
We believe that drivers’ income will decrease under the new contract. Although we weren’t able to prevent the Port from signing it, we were able to achieve important protections for drivers and their families.
One of the requirements under the contract is that Eastside must sign a “Labor Peace” agreement with the drivers’ Union within 60 days.
We will be scheduling demands meetings soon so that drivers can talk about their priorities for the agreement. We’ll let you know once those meetings have been scheduled.
Access a PDF of the Fare Times here.
City of Seattle Moves to Dismiss Chamber Lawsuit
The legal battle over your rights as taxicab operators to collectively bargain continues to unfold.
As you recall, the US Chamber of Commerce is trying to stop the new law that gives drivers the right to bargain with their dispatch companies over their wages, hours and working conditions.
In March, the Chamber filed a lawsuit with the City of Seattle saying that dispatch companies would be damaged by the new law.
Improve Dispatch – Take our Survey!
Taxicab operators who are part of the WWTCOA are working with Yellow Cab to improve its dispatch system.
The current system is flawed and needs to be modernized. Many drivers have reported trouble accessing the system and customers complain regularly.
Please take our taxi dispatch survey. Your feedback will help create a dispatch system that works for all of us!
Tappcar Invites Teamsters to Organize Drivers
CBC News from Edmonton is reporting that Tappcar, a new ride-hailing service based in Canada, is encouraging the Teamsters to organize its drivers.
“We believe that having a unionized workforce will make our workers happy,” a company spokesperson said.
Read more below:
WWTCOA Members Win 35 New Taxi Medallions
Great news! For the first time since 1990, the City of Seattle is awarding 35 new licenses for members of the Western Washington Taxicab Operators Association.
The medallions will go to drivers whose applications were drawn during the lottery conducted on November 4, 2015 in Magnusun Park.
This is a huge victory for the WWTCOA! We negotiated an agreement with the City that included the issuance of these new licenses. And they are coming now – just in time for the holidays!
Taxi Drivers are a Step Closer to Winning Collective Bargaining Rights
Last Friday, Seattle taxi drivers took another huge step towards winning dignity and a voice at work!
Your calls, emails, meetings, and outstanding showing of support helped to secure a unanimous 7-0 vote at Seattle City Council’s meeting of the Finance and Culture Committee.
The passage of this legislation is being followed nationally and has already made news locally.
Dawn Gearhart recognized for outstanding leadership at WSLC Convention
Dawn Gearhart was recognized at the Washington State Labor Council (WSLC) convention in SeaTac today with the 2015 Elsie Schrader Award for the advancement of women in leadership roles and activism on behalf of women within the labor movement.
Over the last three years, Gearhart has demonstrated outstanding leadership in her work organizing and representing Seattle-area taxicab operators and members of the Western Washington Taxicab Operators’ Association.
Last year, she helped successfully negotiate an agreement with the City of Seattle that created more taxi stands, more taxi licenses, a fund to offset higher operating costs for wheelchair accessible cabs, and m edallions as a property right for taxi owners.
Affiliated with Teamsters Local 117
14675 Interurban Ave. South
Tukwila, Washington 98168
If you have questions, contact Teamsters 117 Union Representative Joshua Welter at 206-441-4860 ext. 1279.Seattle taxi medallion lottery Officials at the Port of Seattle have notified airport taxi drivers of a plan to force drivers into debt for unpaid per-trip fees, the collection of which had been ]]>