United Taxi Workers of San Diego to Stage Peaceful Protest Wednesday, October 5th

by on October 4, 2011 · 0 comments

in Labor, Organizing, San Diego

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Civic Center, 3-6pm

The United Taxi Workers of San Diego (UTWSD) and San Diego taxi workers’ will stage a peaceful protest on Wednesday in response to the murder of taxi driver Mir Sadat Sahou during his shift in La Jolla, CA. This peaceful rally aims to address a malignant problem that has been largely ignored over the past decades. Drivers suffer from 60 to 70 hour back-breaking work weeks and are vulnerable to injury from assaults and accidents at a higher rate than any other workforce. But there are few health and safety protections.

Every day, drivers receive police and Metropolitan Transit System (MTS) tickets for minor infractions such as missing road maps, or standing 12 feet away from their vehicle, or neglecting to wear a name badge. Meanwhile, they are silenced from identifying safety concerns out of fear of retaliation and blacklisting from the industry. There is no formal grievance process for safety violations or whistle blowing claims.

The Department of Labor reports 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 than other U.S. workers.

Libaan, a victim of robbery and assault, says, “The customer refused to pay me and punched me in the head. I called the police, and the officer threatened to arrest me. This pain and suffering should not be ignored.” Driver Mohammed explains the daily fear: “Drivers often face threats. I had a $65 fare in La Jolla. The customers went to hit me and never paid. I don’t work at night. But even during the day, I’m scared. I’m not comfortable. I believe that somebody’s going to do something. I work because I need to provide for my family.”

Most taxis have one basic safety feature, known as “Code Blue,” where a light on the top of the car illuminates. There are no safety protections other than this. Most drivers and police officers do not know of this feature, which does not prevent a physical assault nor provides immediate assistance.

Taxi drivers have been the invisible face of San Diego transit for too long. Thousands of drivers go to work without health insurance. Taxi drivers are an integral part of the transportation system, and yet, unlike pubic employees, they labor 12-hour shifts, 6 to 7 days a week, without guaranteed income, health benefits or personal safety protection.

Therefore, we call to the public and leader’s attention the unsafe working conditions of our working poor and rally to to promote enhanced security measures such as window barriers and ensure the security of taxi cab drivers who have been traditionally undeserved. Mr. Sahou’s death emphasizes the urgent need for taxi safety protections for both the driver and public as a whole.

For more information contact Mikaiil Hussein, President, United Taxi Workers of San Diego, or find them on Facebook.

7364 El Cajon Blvd., Ste. 108
San Diego, CA 92115

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