Taxi Worker Alliance – Protecting Wage and Hours

On a rainy day it can be pretty frustrating trying to find a taxi, but have you considered how challenging it is for the taxi drivers to just break even? This week we speak with Bhairavi Desai, Executive Director of the New York Taxi Worker Alliance, Bill Lindauer, Organizing Committee Member and Victor Salazar, the outreach coordinator, three people who are intimately familiar with the challenges of driving a taxi in New York City. Next we talk to Irv Miljoner, the Area Director for the US Department of Labor Wage and Hour, Long Island Division, for an update on the agency’s effort to stem the ever increasing tide of wage and hour violations.

Taxi Worker Alliance takes to the Streets

Taxi Worker AllianceTaxi drivers have been under attack from  fare- beaters and robbers for as long as there have been cabs, but now they also need to contend with so called “ride share” initiatives as well as harsh standards from the leasing companies.  Fleet owners long assumed that since taxi drivers were independent contractors they could never organize into a union. A few years ago, under the leadership of Bhairavi Desai, that assumption was proven wrong when taxi drivers decided that enough was enough and decided to organize into an “association,” that took on all the attributes of a “union. ” That association is the New York Taxi Worker Alliance of which Desai is now the Executive Director. She describes what it took for taxi workers to come together to form the Alliance. Bill Lindauer, of the Organizing Committee member, discusses the emerging “ride share” phenomenon, or as he calls it, “Ride and beware!”  Desai describes it as a clever mechanism to pay workers less! Victor Salazar, the outreach coordinator discusses the challenges of organizing in an industry that is largely composed of independent contractors. We also learn about Vic Fusco’s secret past life, when he too was a taxi driver.

.@NYTWA formed when workers decided to unionize, now they fight for safety and #LivingWages Tweet this

Wage and Hour Division in Action

Irv Miljoner Department of LaborTis the season! Yeah,  the season when many service sector employees, such as retail workers, get extra hours to work. The challenge is whether they will get appropriately paid for them. Fortunately, low wage workers have a fighter in their corner. The U.S. Department of Labor Wage and Hour division, under Area Director Irv Miljoner, makes it a point to travel about Long Island looking for employers who take advantage of their employees.  Outright wage-theft, overtime violations and misclassification of employees –all crimes – still run rampant in our local economy. Through a combination of direct and more subtle investigations the Wage and Hour division ensures that workers receive the full pay that they are supposed to earn. Miljoner describes what goes into an investigation and about how he occasionally ventures “into the lion’s den” to educate employers about compliance with labor laws. Workers and employers should pay heed to Miljoner.

Irv from .@USDOL fills us in on how the Wage and Hour Division protects good jobs with fair pay Tweet this

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3) Middle Class Action Project – Meeting Haber, NY Senate candidate: Find out about an initiative to support middle class workers from all walks of life.
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