Today the San Diego taxi industry is closer to coming out of the shadows of the underground economy. The city’s MTS Board voted to include provisions that will require owners to keep driver leases as well as receipts for the thousands of dollars they collect in lease payments that will be available to drivers upon request.
UTWSD spoke on Item No. 30 which would have pushed through minor changes to Ordinance 11 without including any provisions for taxi drivers or public safety. The last time Ordinance 11 was amended was in 2003. Safety concerns & recommendations were brought to MTS regarding long hours and low wages over a year ago in 2011. These issues were not considered despite unsafe working conditions and risks to the public.
Councilwoman Marti Emerald championed the meeting by making a motion to require the lease as well as lease payment receipts available upon request by MTS. This means owners would be required to keep records of the leases they have with drivers as well as the money they receive for lease payments. If a driver has a dispute with either, those documents will be available through MTS upon request.
Other champions were Councilmember Jim Cunningham who brought up the receipt issue and Councilmember Bob McClellan who spoke not only about the receipts but also about his concerns about retaliation and even his support of a possible lease cap. Councilmember Steve Casaneda from Chula Vista also spoke about the need for MTS to reinforce the already written federal and state laws about providing receipts. Councilmember David Alvarez spoke in support and questioned the issue of the mandatory binding arbitration clauses in the leases which drivers are often unable to afford. And Todd Gloria spoke about clarifying a provision that would inhibit drivers from speaking on the phone on a wireless devise with passengers in the car. Councilmember Gloria wanted to clarify that this would not include emergency phone calls. Lastly, Councilmember Tony Young showed support by directing a question to MTS about whether they provide a guide to operators and owners about better business practices.
Opposition came from Chair Harry Mathis, Ernest Ewin, and Paul Jablowski who had concerns about getting involved with any of the contracts between owners and drivers. MTS is currently looking into the legality of their authority over business to business relationships.
The motion passed and the ordinance changes will be voted on, including the lease and lease receipts requirements, at the next MTS meeting on November 15th.
Come show your support if you can! Our fight for a living wage and protection from retaliation continues but today we are very proud to have advocated for change by educating our elected officials on the MTS board about the many dangers the unsafe working conditions of drivers pose.
We’ll see you all November 15th!