National Taxi Workers Alliance Affiliates with the AFL-CIO

Washington, DC–(ENEWSPF)–Oct. 20, 2011.  With the presentation today of a groundbreaking charter as a National Organizing Committee of the AFL-CIO, the National Taxi Workers Alliance became the 57th organization to be affiliated with the national federation of American unions.  The taxi workers are emblematic not only of changing employment relationships but also new energy among working people to organize together for a voice at work. 

AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka presented the charter to an enthusiastic group of taxi workers at a forum about the future of work and new ways for working men and women to build power in an era of changing employment relationships.  The forum was headlined by U.S. Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis.  Also participating in the panel were representatives of nurses, writers and domestic workers and a respected expert—Bill Cruice, Pennsylvania Association of Staff Nurses & Allied Professionals; Bhairavi Desai, National Taxi Workers Alliance; Justin Molito, Writers Guild of America, East; Ai-jen Poo, National Domestic Workers Alliance and David Weil, Professor, Boston University.

“Taxi workers in New York are one of the most notable examples of workers who overnight technically lost their right to bargain” said President Trumka. “Yet they’ve organized and exercised enough collective power to be treated by the Taxi Commissioner and the Mayor as if they were still a regular union.  It wasn’t easy, but today they’re breaking new ground as they build power for immigrant taxi drivers in a growing number of cities.”  

“The Department of Labor ranks taxi driving as one of the most dangerous jobs in the country, with drivers 30 times more likely to be killed on the job than other US workers,” said Bhairavi Desai. “Despite being excluded from collective bargaining rights under the National Labor Relations Act, New York Taxi Workers Alliance is one of the biggest independent unions in the US.  We are excited to affiliate with the AFL-CIO and to broaden the work of organizing the nation’s taxi workers into the larger labor movement.”

Over the past five years, the AFL-CIO has been actively engaged in strategic organizing around new types of work and employment relationships. That effort has involved partnering with networks of worker centers, many in immigrant and low-wage communities, and other groups of workers who do not have union representation. The affiliation with the Taxi Workers Alliance is the furthest step taken so far to involve worker groups in the broader labor movement.  

“Today’s forum highlights the need to work together and take collective action,” said Ai-jen Poo. “We are fighting together to defend and expand the right to organize, win justice for immigrants, and ensure that one day the domestic workers that make all other work possible–cleaning and caring for children and seniors–will have rights, respect, and recognition. We’re glad to be a part of building a labor movement based on values- respect, recognition and dignity for all workers.”

“As the Baby Boomer population reaches retirement and elderly age, the demand for nurses and nursing careers undoubtedly increases, as does the struggle for collective bargaining, patient safety and a strong professional voice,” said Bill Cruice. “Nurses should have the freedom to form a union without the fear of retaliation.”