Cabdrivers Protest for Change (VIDEO)
More than 160 Maryland cabdrivers slowly drove along Monroe Street in Rockville on Oct. 6 demanding changes on Montgomery County’s taxi regulations and protesting against credit card fees.
The gridlocked traffic near the County’s Executive building lasted more than one hour.
Peter Ibik, president of the Montgomery County Professionals Drivers Union and a Barwood driver, said they are tired of arguing with the cab companies and want the county’s help.
“We need the county to get involved,” Ibik said.
Drivers are members of the recently organized Montgomery County Professionals Drivers Union, which is affiliated with the 18,000-member National Taxi Workers Alliance.
MCPDU officials said they are scheduled to meet with county officials and cab company representatives on Oct. 10, to participate in a mediation session to talk about high lease rates, a fair credit card percentage rate, and the end to unfair affiliation contracts.
According to a press release from the Montgomery County Professionals Drivers Union, there are 1,000 taxi drivers in Montgomery County who are considered independent contractors, and are not protected by any wage, hour, or worker compensation laws. The average Montgomery County taxi driver earns less than minimum wage, works between 12 to 16 hours a day, while paying between $100 and $115 a day to lease their taxis from cab companies. Barwood has more than 60 percent of the taxi business in Montgomery County, and charges its drivers 7.9 percent on every credit card transaction. Most drivers lease their cabs and medallions- a certificate that allows a cab to operate in the county. Approximately 200 drivers own their medallion and cab.
“The County Executive [Isiah Leggett] has spoken both with the cabdrivers and the cab companies, and the county’s interested in this obviously is having a taxi system in the county that works for all of the county,” said Patrick Lacefield, Montgomery County Spokesman.
Today’s protest was peaceful and had drivers from five companies participating: Sun Cab, Regency, Orange, Barwood, and Action.
Abdul Seiwoh, of Silver Spring, has been a cab driver since 1983, and said he has suffered a significant cut on his income due to the high fees.
“We have very limited business now, but we have a situation where the cab rates is very high and when you add fuel cost and everything [else] basically it leaves you making below minimum wage,” Seiwoh said.