New York City taxi drivers end hunger strike after reaching deal on debt relief

1 year ago 103

After weeks of camping extracurricular City Hall successful New York, taxi drivers tin yet caput location aft striking a woody with officials to rescue thousands of workers from crushing loans that had caused misery for their families.

The quality arrived connected the fifteenth time of a hunger onslaught led by the drivers and their advocates.

New York City’s Taxi and Limousine Commission (TLC) agreed to a city-backed warrant to little the monthly payments of taxi medallion owners, oregon “owner drivers” to a maximum $170,000 – acold little than the mean medallion indebtedness of astir $600,000, according to the New York Taxi Workers Alliance (NYTWA).

The statement was made with Marblegate, the largest medallion loan-holder, with much lenders expecting to travel suit. Soon, the astir a operator tin expect to wage backmost successful loans is present conscionable implicit $1,100 per month.

Yellow cab drivers be  a rally demanding indebtedness  forgiveness for cabbies, on  with immoderate   drivers taking portion  successful  a hunger strike, extracurricular  City Hall successful  New York connected  20 October 2021.
Yellow cab drivers be a rally demanding indebtedness forgiveness for cabbies, on with immoderate drivers taking portion successful a hunger strike, extracurricular City Hall successful New York connected 20 October 2021. Photograph: Kena Betancur/AFP/Getty Images

For operator Erhan Tuncel, 61, who has a full medallion indebtedness of $690,000 with monthly payments of $3,800, the quality was a large relief.

“The little monthly outgo is simply a immense interruption for each azygous 1 us,” Tuncel said. “It means we tin enactment successful a afloat day’s enactment and beryllium blessed with the wealth we instrumentality location due to the fact that owning and operating a medallion successful New York City is an costly business. On apical of the medallion payments, we instrumentality connected each the expenses similar insurance, maintaining the vehicle, the TLC fees, inspection fees – they each adhd up. I’m ecstatic and blessed for each the owner-drivers who are going to get a immense interruption from this.”

The situation successful the city’s famed yellowish cab manufacture began with the tin sheet required to run a yellowish cab, different known arsenic a taxi medallion. The reasons for the ample indebtedness owed by taxi drivers are a deficiency of regularisation by New York City, which allowed the terms of the medallion to beryllium artificially inflated (once to the constituent of $1m), and predatory lenders that targeted the taxi workforce, which is made up of galore radical of colour successful a assemblage agelong seen arsenic a way to the mediate people for immigrants.

The metropolis was complicit successful selling the medallion arsenic “better than a stock” and a pathway to the American dream, starring taxi drivers to judge a medallion was an concern worthy of risking each they clasp dear. The important indebtedness yet drove immoderate drivers to suicide.

The drivers’ lawsuit had won enactment from progressive elected officials astatine national, state, and section levels – including Senator Chuck Schumer, Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio Cortez, and New York’s lawyer general, Letitia James.

Big news: My office, @NYTWA, & @NYCMayor reached a woody that includes metropolis backstop to guarantee DESPERATELY needed indebtedness alleviation for our taxi workers

This is simply a existent victory—Thank you to the brave hunger strikers and bonzer question of NYers for coming unneurotic for our cabbies

— Chuck Schumer (@SenSchumer) November 3, 2021

In a statement Schumer, who brokered the woody with New York Mayor Bill de Blasio, said: “The medallion indebtedness situation has gone connected for years, taking lives and livelihoods. I commend Mayor de Blasio for his leadership, the New York Taxi Workers Alliance for their steadfast advocacy, and Marblegate for their good-faith effort to forge a workable solution. Together, we volition bring this ongoing concern to a conscionable solution for the thousands of cabbies who enactment each time to service this city.”

One of the NYTWA’s astir vocal advocates is Zohran Mamdani, a authorities assemblyman from Queens. After 15 days of hunger striking and consuming thing but water, Gatorade, and yet chickenhearted broth, the activist-politician broke his accelerated upon proceeding the quality with conscionable 2 slices of avocado and a date.

“I woke up connected Monday of this week and I wasn’t definite if I could spell on. It had been 12 days astatine that constituent and I conscionable wasn’t definite wherever we were and however agelong it was going to go. I was conscionable truthful bushed and I was truthful bushed of being hungry,” helium said.

Mamdani said helium viewed the hunger onslaught arsenic a much-needed escalatory maneuver that made the consequences of argumentation public.

“By going connected a hunger onslaught successful beforehand of City Hall, determination was nary mode you could disregard what we were doing to our bodies successful the work of this fight. It’s infectious – the courage, the belief. Then it each culminated successful contiguous and I conscionable haven’t felt the emotions that I felt contiguous successful a agelong time.”