San Diego City Beat | How San Diego cab drivers overhauled the local industry: United Taxi Workers won a huge grassroots victory

November 19th, 2014 — “…efforts by drivers to reform the industry first started at least four years prior to the report, said United Taxi Workers (UTWSD) Executive Director Mikaiil Hussein. Before becoming the head of the labor group, the 45-year-old refugee from Somalia was one of the city’s roughly 2,000 taxi drivers, 70 percent of whom are East African immigrants.”

“The idea to walk off the job came about “naturally,” said Abebe Antallo, 54, UTWSD lead organizer. “They don’t have no choice. The only thing they can do, the one choice is organizing together and making a strike.”

About UTWSD: “No one is going to come to this organization to help us unless they love it,” Hussein said. “We are all family.”

San Diego Free Press | United Taxi Workers and the Struggle for a New Labor Movement

November 17th, 2014 — “As their Program Director Sarah Saez puts it, “It’s about reaching out with the intention of listening and learning from workers and our community and giving them the support they need to inspire and lead movements.”

U-T San Diego Editorial Board| San Diego City Council Smart to EndTaxi Monopoly

November 11th, 2014 — “The current owners of the 993 permits the city has issued say this is unfair to them. But they need to compete for business — not assume they get a permanent advantage in a monopolized market. There is also evidence that some of the permit holders have exploitive relationships with their drivers, many of whom now may be able to go into the taxi business on their own.”

Univision | Eliminan restricciones en permisos de taxi

November 10th, 2014 — “Los choferes de taxi en San Diego ahora podrán adquirir un permiso para trabajar en el vehículo de transporte sin necesidad de reportarse ante algún contratista.”

KUSI | San Diego City Council Eliminates Cap On Number Of Taxi Permits Issued

November 10th 2014 — “According to MTS and Sheriff’s Department data, 89 percent of taxi drivers do not have their own permits,” Saez said. “So if you’re out there in the public and you get a cab, that driver likely doesn’t have his own permit.'”

November 10th, 2014 — “Sarah Saez of the United Taxi Workers of San Diego said, “According to MTS and Sheriff’s Department data, 89 percent of taxi drivers do not have their own permits,” Saez said. “So if you’re out there in the public and you get a cab, that driver likely doesn’t have his own permit.”

FOX 5 | San Diego Lifts Cap on Taxi Permits

November 10th, 2014 — “A much-debated proposal to eliminate a cap on the number of taxi permits issued in San Diego was approved by the City Council Monday.”

CBS 8 | Council OKs Lift on Taxi Permit Cap

November 10th, 2014 — “The plan passed 8-1 by the council also limits the age of taxicabs to 10 years, prohibits the use of vehicles with salvage titles as taxis, reduces a requirement that a prospective permittee have five years of driving or management experience to six months, and clarifies language regarding citizenship and legal U.S. residency.”

San Diego Free Press | Hard Won and Bittersweet Victory for San Diego Taxi Drivers

November 11th, 2014 — “Celebrating a historic night for San Diego taxicab drivers. They all sacrificed losing wages and their jobs for fighting for what they believed in. I am glad that my colleagues understood the need to reform our taxicab industry and voted (8-1) to lift a 30 year cap on the number of permits. I share with the drivers the excitement they are feeling tonight with new opportunity they have to start their own small business as permit owners.”  

TReporting San Diego | The Taxi Permit Cap is Lifted

November 10th, 2014 — “That restrained growth in the industry and as of 2000 there was an experimentation with very limited number of permits that were granted. Because of this, the drivers and United Taxi Workers of San Diego, said that permits entered a black market where they were bought and sold for upwards of a $100,000 dollars in some cases.”

U-T San Diego | Plan removes cabbies’ economic shackles: San Diego plan to lift cap on taxi permits would help industry compete with Uber

November 7th, 2014 — “Our drivers want to be owner operators,” said Sarah Saez, program director of the United Taxi Workers of San Diego, which represents more than 700 drivers. “They want to be small business owners,” she added, noting how excited many of the drivers are to be able to implement new ideas and compete against ride-sharing services. “This is the only way to save the taxi industry.”

KUSI | City Council to make taxi permit changes decision

“Lift the cap on opportunity. Let drivers have their own permits. Stop the exploitation.” Sarah Saez.

KUSI | San Diego Taxicab Reform Heats Up

September 18th, 2014 — “Drivers like Abebe Antallo tell another story because he had to lease a cab at a cost of nearly $2,000 a month.

The pay for the weekly lease, drivers like Antallo say they’re forced to work long grueling hours. He says complaints sometimes result in retaliation by the cab owners.”

U-T San Diego | axi drivers, owners spar at City Hall

September 18th, 2014 — “The permit holders have been trying to abuse drivers for a long time,” said Mikaiil Hussein, a former cabdriver who now is president of the advocacy group, United Taxi Workers of San Diego. “I lost my job in 2009 when I advocated for taxi drivers. No one wanted to hire me. We need drivers to be lifted up. We need all permits to be available to leased drivers.” 

U-T San Diego | ajor Overhaul of Taxi Industry Proposed 

August 28th, 2014 — “Mikaiil Hussein, a former cabdriver who now is president of an advocacy group, United Taxi Workers of San Diego, said the association has been pushing for a change in the medallion cap for the last couple of years.” 

KPBS | San Diego Councilwoman proposing a taxi permit free-for-all

August 28th — “A 2013 study by San Diego State University researchers detailed poor working conditions and pay below minimum wage for lease drivers, who are independent contractors. It signaled a call from United Taxi Workers of San Diego to overhaul the industry.”

KPBS | San Diego’s Taxi-Turned Uber Drivers

Get a New Lease on Life

August 15, 2014 — “A lot of our taxi drivers who went to Uber are saying, ‘If the taxi industry is fixed, we’ll come back to the taxi industry,’” Saez said. “I’ve had more than a handful of drivers who are like, ‘My heart is in the taxi industry but this is a better opportunity for me right now.’” 

KPBS | San Diego Committee Wants Worn Out Cabs Off the Road

July 28, 2014 — “United Taxi Workers organizer Sarah Saez said it’s difficult to find an operator willing to forgo the arbitration clause, which is standard in contracts for everything from cell phone service to health insurance.” 

KPBS | San Diego, MTS Approve Taxi Contract

But Still Idling on Reform

June 19, 2014 — “We want to know about the stability of the drivers who don’t know if they’re going to make their lease payment,” United Taxi Workers of San Diego spokeswoman Sarah Saez said.” 

KPBS | TS, City Move Toward Compromise

for San Diego Cab Drivers

March 20, 2014 — “Members of the United Taxi Workers of San Diego held signs at the meeting asking the board to reject a long-term contract. They were joined by representatives of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez (D-80) and the Employee Rights Center.

UTWSD legal intern Chris Morse said he appreciates the movement toward reform but is skeptical MTS will see them through.

“Pretty much every month they tell us they’re ready to reform, they’re ready to look at the industry, but we’ve really gotten no traction working with anybody from MTS,” Morse said. “So I’m very familiar with this language, but I don’t think results will come from it.”

KPBS | With Filner Out San Diego Spins It’s Wheels on Taxi Reform

December 13, 2013 — “United Taxi Workers representative Sarah Saez said passing a contract that doesn’t regulate dealings between drivers and owners would reinforce a culture of 16-hour workdays, which pose risks to consumers.

“For them to say they refuse to regulate those things, we believe it’s a public safety concern,” Saez said. “So entering into a long-term contract with those provisions, we think it not only affects drivers, it affects the public.”

Union Tribue | Council OKs $100K for new taxi study

June 11th, 2013 — “Mikaiil Hussein, founder and president of the United Taxi Workers of San Diego, an advocacy group for cab drivers, said a new study of the taxi industry “is going to be huge.”

“It’s going to shed light on the issues,” said Hussein, adding that about 150 drivers and their advocates attended Monday’s council meeting.”

San Diego Reader | Ben Hueso’s taxi cab conflict

May 15th, 2013 — ““After I spoke out at a city-council meeting,” he tells me by phone, “I was told to turn in the keys to the cab I was driving. I was then blackballed by the other companies I tried to drive for.”

U-T San Diego | 16th Annual Immigrant Rights Day in Sacramento

May 21st, 2012 — “Immigrant advocates from across the state, including San Diego, are gathered in Sacramento today for a rally and individual meetings with legislators about bills that would directly affect immigrants.

The annual convergence marks the 16th annual Immigrant day. The group aims to urge support for a range of bills that address public safety, family unity, worker rights, religious freedoms and other issues.”

Channel 10 News | Cameras For SD Taxi Cabs Under Consideration

March 16th, 2012 — “I can’t bring my dad back,” Savitar Sahou said. “Perhaps with pushing the idea of enforcing cameras, and having something pass, I feel as if his death would not go in vain.”

“A human being was murdered, and his case was the last straw,” said San Diego City Councilwoman Marti Emerald, who was also a cab driver.”

U-T San Diego | ome labor successes despite poor economy 

Dec. 25th — “Taxi drivers, who are barred from joining a union by virtue of their “independent contractor” status, have successfully organized for a voice at their workplace. They have engaged labor and the community to help tackle issues concerning driver safety and livable wages.” by Lorena Gonzalez, Secretary Treasurer/CEO San Diego Labor Council 

KPBS | Recent Cab Driver Killings Point to Need for Safety Measures

Dec. 14th — “According to Hussein, the convoluted system of accountability and ownership of the taxi cab business has made if difficult for drivers to organize and make demands. Complicating things further, most cab drivers are immigrants. This is often their first job in this country, and they are just learning the system.”

U-T San Diego | Taxi Drivers Gain Stronger Voice on MTS Regulatory Board

Dec. 8th — “The results are in: Taxicab drivers Hussein Nuur and Berhanu Lemma officially have seats at the table of of the Metropolitan Transit System’s influential Taxicab Advisory Committee.”

U-T San Diego | Cab Drivers Head to The Polls For a Voice on Taxi Panel

Nov. 14th — ““It is a very significant event,” said Sarah Saez, an organizer for United Taxi Workers of San Diego, which claims about 700 drivers on its rolls. “Before there were eight owners and one driver, who was appointed by the owners.” Eventually there will be at least four potentially independent drivers.”

KPBS | Taxi Drivers To Be Heard On Safety Demands

Nov. 15th — “”There is always a danger in the cab industry,” said Hussein. “Tragic incidents always happen, but we have to make sure at least to have some kind of protection for their drivers. Because the drivers, they’re the ones serving the community.” – from KPBS

Taxi Driver Shot to Death in San Diego County

Oct. 31st — “The president of the United Taxicab Workers of San Diego, Mikaiil Hussein, says his members are afraid. Hussein says he plans to ask the San Diego City Council this week to require all taxis in that city to have window barriers and cameras installed.”

OB Rag | United Taxi Workers of San Diego to Stage Peaceful Protest

 Oct. 4th — “The United Taxi Workers of San Diego (UTWSD) and San Diego taxi workers’ will stage a peaceful protest on Wednesday in response to the murder of taxi driver Mir Sadat Sahou during his shift in La Jolla, CA. This peaceful rally aims to address a malignant problem that has been largely ignored over the past decades. Drivers suffer from 60 to 70 hour back-breaking work weeks and are vulnerable to injury from assaults and accidents at a higher rate than any other workforce. But there are few health and safety protections.”

U-T San Diego | Slain cabdriver was a prominent figure in Afghanistan

Sept. 29th — Taxi drivers are 20 times more likely to be murdered on the job than other workers, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. Last year, 27 of the 42 cabdrivers killed on the job were murder victims. The rest died in traffic crashes, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. That is up from 2009, when 23 drivers were killed in violent acts.

San Diego 10 News | Taxi Drivers Given Larger Role In Local Gov’t

July 14th — “With a round of applause, dozens of taxi cab drivers celebrated the 8-2 vote by the Metropolitan Transit System Board of Directors that gave them a larger role in local government.”

U-T San Diego | Cabdrivers get louder voice on taxi matters

July 12th —Mikaiil Hussein, head of the United Taxi Workers of San Diego, said the move has been needed for some time. “We have the unique perspective of being the front line of the industry,” Hussein said. “All we are asking (for) is an equal voice.”

U-T San Diego | Taxi fee persists despite legal questions

July 5th  — “Mikaiil Hussein of United Taxi Workers of San Diego said, “It’s not fair at all. It’s a huge hit. It’s very hard for drivers to maintain their lifestyles and take care of their families.””

San Diego 10 News | City Officials Discuss Taxi Cab Safety

March 18 — “Hussein also told 10News drivers pay $860 per week to lease a cab, and that payment doesn’t include gas. He and other cab drivers want to see those fees go down so they can work fewer hours.”

U-T San Diego | Crash puts spotlight on cabbies’ conditions

February 19th — “Given our years of experience with workers issues,” said Peter Zschiesche, founding director of the 11-year-old Employee Rights Center in San Diego, “I can safely say that taxi drivers and their working conditions are some of the most unprotected there are in an industry that is, in other respects, highly regulated.”

San Diego 6 News | Cab Strike Limits Travel Options in San Diego

July 2009 — “About 150 Yellow Cab drivers in San Diego went on strike over the weekend in a dispute over lease rates for their vehicles.” – from San Diego 6 News