Cabbies in City Hall Protest
Today about 150 taxi drivers drove their cabs around City Hall, honking as they did. The source of the cabbies' ire is what they view as the awarding of a sweetheart contract to a consulting firm with indirect ties to Yellow Cab. The $250,000 deal went to Nelson-Nygaard Consulting Associates without public hearings, according to City News Service, for the purpose of developing a taxi-regulation system.
The L.A. Taxi Workers Alliance cried foul and worse, with alliance member Hamid Khan claiming Nelson-Nygaard is the same group responsible for the current system, which Khan describes as "modern sharecropping, a sweatshop on wheels and franchise slavery." A Daily Breeze article said the contract was not run past the City Council or the Board of Taxi Cab Commissioners.
The cabbies complain that nearly two-thirds of L.A.'s legal cabs are only leased to drivers, who must pay $350-$700 for the privilege. LATWA also claims that a Nelson-Nygaard employee has indirect ties to a Yellow Cab general manager through an industry group called the Taxi, Limousine and Paratransit Association.
The current system of franchising cabs has long been criticized as corrupt and broken. The CNS story cited a UCLA study that noted, "cab drivers often work average of 72 hours per week and earn a median rate of $8.39 per hour . . . the city regulates in great detail many aspects of the industry --" including, CNS says, the color of socks that drivers must wear -- "[but] does a poor job of protecting taxi workers from exploitation by their companies."
A spokesperson for Nelson-Nygaard's San Francisco headquarters was not available for comment.