Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Recapping The June 21st Taxi Strike And Protest. By Mark Gruberg

Photo by John Han.
(Published with permission from Mark Gruberg.  Gruberg is with United Taxi Workers)  The turnout at City Hall for yesterday's strike/protest was enormous.  For a long stretch of time, the streets were filled for blocks around with cabs, and traffic all around was at a halt. 

The S.F. Chronicle said the strike "failed to take hold downtown, where cabs were plentiful", but that assertion was contradicted by a report in the online Bay Citizen, which said that although cabs were available at 12:15 (15 minutes after the start of the strike), as it went on, cabs were much harder to find. A hotel doorman said guests were forced to wait much longer than usual, and a woman at Post and Kearny said she'd been unsuccessfully trying to flag a cab for half an hour.  

Google was less than accurate in taglining the Bay Citizen article.  The story's headline read "Taxi Strike Frustrates Downtown Travelers", but Google introduced it as "Noise at Civic Center, But No Trouble Hailing a Cab".  

Tariq Mehmood deserves a lot of credit for mobilizing drivers.  But others worked hard as well -- Saam Aryan did a tremendous amount of outreach, Brad Newsham created a wonderful photo-op of drivers roped around the flagpole across from City Hall, Dean Clark worked hard at the protest, and UTW did its part in bringing out drivers, providing picket signs, etc.  Many others worked the street and kept the enthusiasm going.

One discordant note: the protest was, unfortunately, scheduled at the same time Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi was presiding over a children's event on the City Hall steps.  He was drowned out by the horn honking, and let it be known that he didn't appreciate it.  Apologies were owing, and have been made.  We need to make very effort to avoid this kind of conflict in the future. 

Since the MTA had pulled all taxi items off its agenda (saying an environmental impact report hadn't been completed), the only opportunity to address the MTA Board came during public comment.  A couple of dozen drivers spoke, and Board Chairman Tom Nolan signaled that the Board was listening. He indicated that he would like to see the 5% credit charge reduced, and wanted to reopen discussion of the proposed Open Taxi Access system, which would put prospective passengers in direct contact with drivers.    

MTA Executive Director Nathaniel Ford (who is on his way out the door) said the postponed taxi matters would be heard on Aug. 2.  That, of course, delays a final decision on a meter increase for over a month.  Add another month for the new fares to go into effect, and we're looking at September at the earliest.  

I think a decision on further protests should await the MTA's reponse to the issues now on the table -- credit fees, back-seat terminals and electronic waybills.  And, of course, implementation of the meter increase, as well as their upcoming decision on adding cabs.  (More on this last point soon.)

Mark Gruberg
United Taxicab Workers 


  1. Lots of people were inconvenienced, particularly the cab drivers themselves. What's so special about Mirkamiri?

    And hadnt he heard there was going to be a lot of cabs there honking their horns?

  2. Ross came up to me, and told me that there was a press conference for the children, so he thought it was rude to do the strike at that time. There was also a concern that no one checked to see if something else was scheduled and permitted for at the specific time we showed up at.

  3. I heard a funny story yesterday from one of my taxi customers...

    With suitcase in hand, she hailed a "striking" taxi driver near City Hall, who promptly jumped out of the "picket line" to pick her up. Of course, the driver was infuriated when he learned that she was only going to Pacific Heights and not SFO, and he bitched at her about the woes of the struggling taxi driver during the entire ride.

    It's hard to take anybody's cause seriously when such behavior is displayed...

  4. Mark is collecting signature in favor of
    Christiane Hayashi who created all these
    problems. It remains the leadership of
    Tariq who is keeping everyone around him.
    Mark suggested at Town Hall meetings that
    Cab companies should have electronic waybills
    information and SFMTA can ask them on case to
    case basis. The drivers do not want anyone
    company to have this information. In simple they
    do not want any electronic waybill. It can be
    said that some companies do have information
    already but remember that it is not produced
    for any purpose because there is no legal
    protection for companies to do so.

  5. Johnny Walker sez: can you back up your accusation's with facts, in regards

    To Gruberg and his support for hayashi, as far as a signature drive is con-


  6. I heard that he was going to collect signature
    but someone suggested him not to do so. I do not
    know if he is collecting by now or not. However the entire show was Mr. Mehmood and just for photo op taxi driver would not come and loose $ 40 to $ 100 of their income. Different people are
    trying to take credit. When Mehmood announced
    the strike, no one came forward and announced
    that they will join or help for it. There was
    some laugh at him on announcing the strike. I noticed that people believe in Mehmood than others. He is a charismatic leader and I hope
    he can prepare others to continue afterward.
    This industry needs such a figure and its
    long overdue. Athe the end let me say once
    more and clear to everyone that it was all
    and alone Mehmood figure who forced others
    to glue them with this strike.


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