Letisha Coplin's been driving a taxi in the nation's capital for 48 years. If her new union, Teamsters Local 922, wins its battle against unregulated car services such as Uber and Lyft, she'll be able to keep driving. Unfortunately for Coplin and other D.C. taxi drivers, who earlier this week staged their third mass protest in front of the Wilson Building, this year they didn't win.
The DC City Council passed an ordinance 21-1 on October 28 giving virtual free rein in the city to “car share” or “car hire” services, despite warnings that their vehicles don't have to meet the same safety standards taxis do, and their drivers don't undergo background checks. That's not the case with Coplin, a dignified African-American woman, or her fellow D.C. cabbies, who must be cleared of criminal records by both the D.C. police and the FBI. With no regulation, the firms pay rock-bottom wages. “They're stealing our living,” driver L Javaid said. DC cabbies, like their counterparts in Chicago, Philadelphia, New York and elsewhere, want to bring the car hire services and those drivers under the same rules and regulations cabbies must follow. “Our fight is not over,” Local 922 Business Agent Royale Simms said after the vote.
- Mark Gruenberg, PAI Staff Writer