As the viewing audience YouTube replays video of Uber CEO Travis Kalanick arguing to driver Fawzi Kamel about Kamel’s ingratitude at making money as an Uber driver (even though said money falls below a minimum wage), one cannot help but consider a fact that New York’s Yellow Cabs are seeing an expansion of unfair labor practices not seen since Wal-mart decided to mega-church itself into the Deep South. If one spends anytime in a yellow cab, one will find a host of topics to discuss on the traffic-laden trip here or there. If one asks, there is a balance struck by New York City cabbies in their arguments of Uber.

On the Value of a Taxi Medallion
Taxi medallions are not inexpensive. A February 2017 New York Taxi and Limousine Sales Chart lists two taxi medallions for sale: one cab is listed for $400,000, the other for $550,000. In December 2016, there were four independent medallions available, ranging in price from $387,000 to $600,000.00. Two corporate, unrestricted medallions were being sold for $1,350,000.00 (that’s millions in yellow cab speak). There have been no ‘corporate unrestricted’ medallions for sale in FY-2017.

We’re no appraiser on the value of a bridge to nowhere, but a medallion license is an asset which can be converted to a liquid asset. A taxi medallion is an investment by individual or small business owner. Now, with one trending app, New York is fighting against a working segment of the city being put out of business. An Uber here or an Uber there, and before the city residents knew what was afoot, Uber cars had flooded the streets, overwhelming the number of yellow cabs available a minute ahead, or a minute behind. The net result is that a “fleet” of Uber cars have been allowed to devalue a medallion and license, which yellow cab drivers are required by the great city’s law to maintain.

New York City’s Adherence to Rules and Regulations, and Uber’s Wild West Show
One need only refer to rapes which occur at the hands of an Uber driver, the ‘pick and choose’ policy some Uber drivers adhere to, and the above referenced CEO breakdown, to realize New York City cabbies are required – by law – to pick up passengers, and to deliver said passengers to their destination (at a pre-defined rate) safety and securely. If a passenger has a complaint with an Uber ride, he or she must go ‘corporate’, and bring their grievance to the Uber board. This approach may be fine and well, if an Uber driver is rude or charges a dollar more, but the strategy does nothing to alleviate civil rights violations.

New York City’s Use of Apps versus the Speed and Convenience of the Uber Mobile Phone Icon
There are, believe it or not, New York City cabbies who do not even realize there is an app (Arro) which would allow a yellow cab driver to receive calls for a taxi, from a prospective passenger’s telephone. Hsquared Magazine is not sure who to blame for this lapse in judgment, but this being New York City (a champion of the underdog), most New Yorkers would rather call a yellow cab than that of an unknown driver and car. This is especially true for those New Yorkers with disabilities (and those who love them) who sometimes cannot utilize an Uber vehicle, because the Uber vehicle has not been outfitted to accommodate the handicapped.

We’ll pause here for a moment to suggest the above system does not seem fair. It does not seem fair at all.

New York City’s Problem as it relates to traffic flow, shift changes, and an unfair number of Uber cars on the streets at one time.
Let’s face it: in New York there are some areas of the city where a passenger can spend in excess of 45-minutes attempting to hail a cab. These periods typically occur during shift changes, which happen to coincide with the beginning and the end of work hours for most of the city.

Sure, we could all take the subway, but that would be asking a bit much from those who wish not to be pushed onto the tracks of the A line (because New York is once again being overwhelmed by the problem of insufficient quality mental healthcare services for New York City’s homeless, and the more general problem of a rising number of homeless on New York City’s streets at any given time.) No Wall Streeter wants to spend in excess of 45-minutes waiting for a cab, but then again – most of Wall Street doesn’t rely on a yellow cab, or an Uber.

The true Wall Streeter relies on private car service, which tends to clog the roadways. The rest of New York minions rely on expedient transportation from point A to point B, and request the transport be safe, and offered at a relatively reasonable price.The sad (but apparent) reality is there are too many cars in New York. What were once wide streets – allowing for one vehicle to pass another stopped vehicle – has been replaced by Carmel and Skyline fleets of SUVs, Ubers, and yellow cabs (oh, my!).

This is when New Yorkers begin the call for a tax on vehicles which fit more than four passengers at one time.

There is also the matter of the daily influx from those who live in New Jersey or Connecticut, who decide the expediency of their travel to our city via their gas guzzling auto is more important than the quality of life upon which most New Yorkers have come to rely.Don’t even get us started on the New Jersey ginny-T crew who make it a point to zoom by child and invalid alike, on their pilgrimage to the city on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday night (a Jersey shore crowd still convinced a horsepower is the equivalent of an inch.)

This is when New Yorkers begin to request a tax on out-of-state drivers.There are some yellow cab drivers who will admit to the fact that shift changes are hard on all New Yorkers. These are the same yellow cab drivers who would hop into their family owned vehicle to earn a few extra dollars when not working for “the man”. But, most yellow cab drivers will tell you the issue isn’t whether Uber should be allowed … the truth of the matter is Uber has the ability to flood a market during time and period of its choice, with a fleet that overwhelms the need for a yellow cab at all.

This is when New Yorkers begin to ask for a cap to numbers of Uber drivers allowed to driver on New York City’s streets at one time.

We know. We know. It all seems so complicated. Only, it’s not – it’s not complicated at all. Ask a CEO from Uber, who thought his stock price more important than a man’s right to a minimum wage.

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Editors, writers and members of the Fraternal Order of the Leather Apron Club.