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Raleigh taxicab drivers threaten strike

Posted May 18, 2011

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— Hundreds of taxicab drivers in Raleigh are threatening to go on strike next week if the City Council doesn't address concerns related to what drivers are calling "unfriendly cab driver policies."

"A strike is very imminent," Lent Carr, president of the North Carolina Taxi Workers Alliance Inc., said Wednesday.

The labor union, which represents more than 600 local cab drivers, went before city leaders for a second time on Tuesday with a number of issues. Carr says they are so severe that they need a taxicab commission to address them.

"We need resolution now, not tomorrow," Carr said. "If not – we want it clear – we have already started talks of strikes here in Raleigh."

The council, he says, has been slow to move on three high-priority issues facing taxi cab drivers.

Among them, 42 additional taxi zones from 9 p.m. to 3 a.m. throughout Raleigh.

Drivers, like Freddy Jones, the union's vice president, say there are many high-traffic areas, including Glenwood South and Fayetteville Street, with no place for them to safely pull over and pick up fares without being cited by police for blocking traffic.

"(These areas are) so backed up on Friday and Saturday nights," Jones said. "It's gridlock all the way up and down the street."

Other issues the union wants resolved include an increase in taxi rates and a cap on the number of taxi permits issued.

Raleigh taxicab drivers threaten strike Raleigh taxicab drivers threaten strike

Jones says soaring gas prices are forcing drivers to spend more money and that, for some, it is difficult for them to break even. With more than 1,000 city-issued permits, part-time drivers are also taking away business from full-time drivers.

"It is very difficult to make a living, spending an additional $200 a week, since gas prices have increased," Jones said.

Raleigh City Manager Russell Allen says the City Council has been deliberate in trying to work through items that protect the public's interest while trying to be cognizant of taxicab drivers.

He says city leaders have dealt with every issue related to zones, fees, inspections and city ordinances that have been brought before them.

"We looked at the prices and fees recently and did adjust the fees in the last two to three years on the rates," he said.

Allen says the union went before the City Council in April asking for additional zones but that there were too many.

"We do have a process for looking at zones, and we indicated to them that they really needed to prioritize that list to their top four or five," he said.

City leaders also recommended that union members also get the support of local businesses where they need taxi stands.

"That process ensures (that,) if we're going to create a zone and perhaps take out parking spaces for a taxicab, then the businesses need to be supportive of that," Allen said.

Allen said the city will re-examine rates but that it's unlikely it will consider limiting the number of taxi permits.

"I think they're concerned about the number and the competiveness, and I certainly understand that, but I don't know that that is something (the) council would try to intervene with – interfering with the market on how many cab companies could be supported in the market," Allen said, adding that there are no other businesses in the city that have caps.

He also doesn't see the need for a special commission.

"In my view, there's not enough," Allen said. "It would be very unusual for (the) council to set up a commission just to support issues for just one business," Allen said.

The City Council, he says, uses a committee structure for matters that need more attention. The Law and Public Safety Commission, he says, has spent hours on taxicab issues in the past few years.

As for a strike, "it doesn't expedite any processes as far as city administration is concerned," Allen said. "I don't think that would change the council's mind about anything they want to do, because they have been very fair and responsive to the cab industry."


This story is closed for comments.

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  • lenseyemover May 19, 2011

    You know shortcake; I wasn't going to reply to your obvious mis-characterization of my comments here, but I think I will. I love my work (it's rewarding) and I love people (Black, White and Every other Race in Between); NO I do not blame others for the taxi cab drivers plight, I've taken this major issue to the appropriate persons who has the power to rectify the egregious matters as duly raised. Indeed, it is about choice my friend, that's why I've chose to represent those who are of the less fortunate of our community. Grace and Peace.

  • shortcake53 May 19, 2011

    lentcarr, if your so insulted by comments and working conditions and living conditions of cab drivers, feel free to find another line of work. And stop blaming the rest of us for your lifestyle. We didnt put a gun to your head and force you into this line of work. Its all about choices YOU make.

  • Iworkforaliving May 19, 2011

    and we care because?

  • lenseyemover May 19, 2011

    @rroadrunner99...You say that the taxi drivers are going to strike themselves out of a living; my question to you is what living are you referring to? Have you done your research Sir or Ma'am? I say this since most of the vocal here do not use their government names.I'm sure you haven't with contraventional comments as the one you just espoused here. Did you know that allot of those same cab drivers you are against do not make so much as to afford a place to stay! That's right! They sleep in the high price cab leased from the cab owner's in which they drive everyday. At the end of the work day they have not broken even...they usually only bring in after paying the taxi cab owner (mobsters) off and the highly regulated permit enforcer...the City of Raleigh the mere gas in which they've pumped into their cabs to service the appreciative citizens of this great city and even the complainers who do not have the facts of what these cab drivers live through. Yes, we're here to demand JUSTICE

  • rroadrunner99 May 19, 2011

    Go ahead Taxi drivers and strike yourselves right out of a living and into the poor house. You think it's bad for you now, wait until you are not working any at all then see how bad it is. Oh...those Labor Union Dues will come due... working or not the Union don't care either way. They have to have their pay check.

  • lenseyemover May 19, 2011

    In response to every heartless person in opposition here, who for all practical purposes are either well off or comfortably employed with a Company who've met your salary request of what you believe you're worth; think about this:The Taxi Drivers who you obviously have a discriminative distaste for; The Department of Labor ranks taxi driving as the most dangerous job in the country, with drivers 60 times more likely to be killed and 80 times more likely to be robbed on the job than other US workers. Drivers face discrimination at the hands of the police, harsh regulations, and Taxi and Limousine Commission courts devoid of due process. As recently remarked by Dr. Lent Carr, President of NCTWA at a Campaign function for his bid for Raleigh City Council in 2011; “I ascribe to the fundamental belief that awareness grows that social justice and economic justice cannot exist independently of one another. Jobs with Justice seek to tear down walls between groups who have common interests."

  • Not_So_Dumb May 19, 2011

    "Which side are you on?"-smbiz

    The cabbies. The union is doing a good thing here - advocating on behalf of the interests of its members. If it wasn't a taxi driver's union but a lobbyist for cab companies, I would imagine that most of the people telling the cabbies to take a hike would be talking about this as another example of over-regulation hurting jobs.

    When companies say they won't do business here because of regulation, it is the government's fault. When unions say they won't do business here (strike) because of regulations, it is the union's fault.


  • THE OLD - THE NEW May 19, 2011


  • ICTrue May 19, 2011

    "An argument between unions and government regulation. How will the right wingers choose sides when both are favored scapegoats for all that is wrong in the world." Not_So_Dumb

    Which side are you on?

  • solarflare40 May 19, 2011

    OH NO!!!!! What are we going to do if the Raleigh taxi cab drivers go on strike????? Oh yea, drive our cars, carpool, and ride the bus just like we all do now. I don't know a single person who has used a Raleigh cab. NOTE TO CAB DRIVERS IN RALEIGH: GET OVER YOURSELVES! WE DON'T NEED YOU. BE HAPPY YOU HAVE A JOB AND QUIT WHINING!!!