NEW YORK CITY — The Taxi Workers Alliance (TWA) is asking the city's more than 40,000 cabbies to turn off their engines in protest for 24 hours starting at 5 a.m. Oct. 22, 2007. The alliance orchestrated a 48-hour strike last month over a requirement that GPS devices and credit card machines be installed in cabs. The new walkout will have a broader focus, including demands for health care benefits and the right to unionize.
Hack stands will become picket lines, the group said yesterday, and a rally will converge outside the Taxi & Limousine Commission headquarters in lower Manhattan at noon on that day.
Alliance executive director Bhairavi Desai said she hoped city officials "will come to their senses and scrap this technology."
The mayor said earlier this week that the city would be prepared again, possibly with another contingency plan featuring flat fares for cab sharing.
Drivers went on strike for two days in September, and tried in court to block installation of GPS technology, which they say violates their privacy. A lawsuit arguing the constitutionality of the technology is set to go before a Manhattan federal judge on Oct. 10, 2007.
The alliance is intensifying its efforts and demands, despite the city downplaying the effects of the last strike.
In September's strike, passengers shared cabs and delays were apparent at transit hot spots at rush hours. Limousine drivers were allowed to pick up hailed fares during that time as well.
Some drivers outside Penn Station said yesterday they would participate in the upcoming strike, while others said they didn't support it or could not afford to lose a day's pay.
Some drivers who lease their cabs, like 15-year veteran Mohammed Alam, said they will have to pay about $175 a month for the technology. Drivers will also have to pay a 5% surcharge on all credit card fares.
"I'm hopeful we're going to stop it because they don't treat us like we are human beings," said Alam, who went on strike the last time and planned to do so again. "I just got a $25 ticket [from the police] for not having a map when I know how to get around the city. Everybody together just wants to suck on our blood."