Classification of Taxi Drivers

5 January 2000

Dallas Observer
2130 Commerce St.
Dallas , Tx 75201

Mr. Jim Szekely , director of the International Taxi Drivers Safety Council as well as a director of H.E.L.P. , sent me a copy of Rose Farley's Article on the murders of taxicab drivers. It is helpful, and a start. But as I have been telling everybody willing to listen, since I began telling nearly 15 years ago, the fundamental issue is classification of taxicab drivers.

Prior to 1980 they were clearly identified as employees, were unionized at the major cab companies, and had employee protections. Once the bandits who run the big cab companies were allowed by the city, state, and federal goverments to classify the drivers as non-employees, the major damage began. They are in a modern form of peonage, a no man-no woman's land, in which they are classified as "self-employed" without the benefits of being self -employed, but are really employees without the benefits accruing to employees under law.

Contrary to what Rose Farley states, the drivers are "not " leasing taxicabs. That is merely what the taxicab company hoodlum bosses say. What they call a "lease " is not a lease, but rather a contract with an assigned work shift made part of it. Nor are the drivers coerced to sign this claptrap as a condition for obtaining work as a cab driver, "independent contractors " as that term is commonly understood. Nor are they even called that in all operations. There are various names for them under various cab company schemes: "lessees," "self- employed persons," "independent entrepreneurs," etc. But whatever the term, it is bogus.

All of this is a part of a nationwide so-called "independent contractor" racket in which companies are allowed to classify their workers in any way they wish. It is not the government classifying them as non- employees. The bandits running the taxicab companies and other kinds of companies (e.g., photocopy machine manufactures, insurance companies) are being allowed to do the classifying. Stop to think about it. Why should the owners of business enterprises be allowed to do the classifying? Is that not strictly a goverment function?

Until Congress takes strong measures to stop this racket, the damage from it will continue. Along with billions of dollars a year lost in taxes and contributions, the damage includes robbery and murder of cab drivers. Protections to curb crimes against cab drivers depend on mandatory classification of them as employees. "That" is the underlying story.


Burton H. Wolfe
H.E.L.P. , ( Homosapiens Educational & Legal Project )
1095 Market St .
San Francisco, CA, USA
( 415-487-1787 )

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