Cabbies Plan One-Day Strike In Protest Against Ride-Share Companies
CHICAGO (CBS) -- Chicago cab drivers said they plan to stage a one-day strike in Chicago on Thursday, to protest proposed city rules they believe would give ride-sharing services like Uber even more of an unfair advantage.
United Taxidrivers Community Council chairman Fayez Khozindar said the cab industry is currently like a wounded animal on life support.
Chicago cab drivers have long demanded the city regulate the ride-sharing industry the same way it regulates taxis, complaining they face stricter and more expensive regulations than companies like Uber and Lyft.
However, as part of his budget plan for 2016, Mayor Rahm Emanuel has proposed giving ride-sharing firms more freedom – specifically, allowing them to do business at O'Hare and Midway airports and McCormick Place for the first time, in exchange for extra fees.
While the mayor also proposed a 15 percent fare hike for taxis, cab drivers have said that extra revenue would not make up for the business they would lose at the airports and the city's convention center.
"The mayor's proposal came as a surprise to us, and it is like the last straw which [is] going to kill that animal, not only break its back," Khozindar said.
Longtime cab driver and activist Peter Ali Enger said the mayor's proposals would further squeeze cabbies, and they plan to stage a one-day strike on Thursday.
"Let's see if the citizens of Chicago can survive just using the ride shares for one day," he said.
Enger said drivers for Uber, Lyft, and Sidecar don't have to pay for medallions and insurance, or have insurance and background checks as cab drivers do, and it's not fair.
In response to the planned taxi strike, an Uber spokeswoman said the taxi industry already provides insufficient service to the city's neighborhoods.
"Sadly many Chicagoans are used to the lack of taxis in their neighborhood, so this is nothing new for them," said Uber spokesman Brooke Anderson. "Uber will continue serving all of Chicago with economic opportunities and safe rides."
Chicago Business Affairs and Consumer Protection Commissioner Maria Guerra Lapacek sent Enger a letter, expressing "significant concerns" about the planned work stoppage, saying it would "inconvenience the hundreds of thousands of travelers and residents that use your services every day."
"This irresponsible work stoppage only reinforces why residents and travelers deserve more options at our airports and across the City.
"No one industry should have the ability to disrupt the lives of Chicagoans and travelers by refusing to provide essential transit services. This work stoppage runs the risk of causing significant disruption or inconvenience to passengers arriving at the airports or traveling across the City, as well as the risk of harming public health, safety, and welfare in other ways," Lapacek wrote.
The commissioner said those options could include exercising the city's executive authority to issue regulations allowing ride-sharing companies to pick up travelers at O'Hare, Midway and McCormick Place.
"The City is prepared to exercise this authority expeditiously if you continue to insist on disrupting the travel of the visitors and residents who currently depend on your services," she wrote.
"Mayor Emanuel's proposal gives residents more options for traveling through the entire city and puts more money in the pockets of taxi drivers by providing the rate increase they have sought for a decade," added in a statement to the media.
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