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Group of NYC cab drivers heading to Minnesota to protest investment firm that holds hundreds of loans on taxi medallions

NYC cab drivers take medallion debt fight to Minnesota 02:12

NEW YORK -- A group of New York City cab drivers was on its way to Minnesota on Sunday night.

As CBS2's Kiran Dhillon reported, the group is hoping to put pressure on a company to join the city's debt relief program for taxi drivers.

More than a dozen cabbies gathered in Times Square to begin their trek.

"So we can have our life back and so we can support our family," driver Wein Chin said.

They are heading to the city of Edina outside Minneapolis to protest outside the headquarters of investment firm O'Brien-Staley Partners, also known as OSP.

The New York Taxi Workers Alliance says OSP holds around 300 loans on taxi medallions.

Sen. Chuck Schumer said the company has refused to join the city's debt relief program for cabbies.

"Why did the other 90 percent settle? Because they're more likely to get paid back reasonably," Schumer said.

In a letter to the company from Schumer, three members of the House of Representatives and other leaders, they ask for an "immediate end to the abusive and predatory taxi medallion seizures and foreclosures."

"This one private equity firm is still insisting on foreclosing on drivers and selling the medallions through private sales and they're refusing to bring down the debts," New York Taxi Workers Alliance executive director Bhairavi Desai said. "It's a 2,400-mile journey for a lifetime of justice, because our members cannot remain in the level of debt they are drowning in."

The city's program, which includes $30,000 grants for lenders along with a city-backed guarantee of the loan, came about after drivers held a hunger strike outside City Hall in the fall, saying their loans were predatory and crippling.

Cab driver Mohammad Shahidullah said he had a loan with OSP, and his medallion was repossessed by a debt collector in January.

"They took my medallion, they took my plates, my meter, and the car is sitting there and I store it at my home," Shahidullah said.

Medallion owners say they won't give up until O'Brien-Staley Partners joins the city's program.

The cabbies will reach Minnesota by Monday afternoon, where they'll hold a 24-hour protest outside of the firm's headquarters.

CBS2 reached out to O'Brien-Staley Partners as well as the firm's lawyer for comment, but did not immediately hear back.

Schumer said O-Brien-Staley Partners has not formally responded to his letter. 

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