The AFL-CIO has a new affiliate. The National Taxi Workers Alliance (NTWA) received its charter from the federation on October 20.
In a ceremony naming the organization as the federation’s 57th member, AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka observed: “Taxi workers in New York are one of the most notable examples of workers who overnight technically lost their right to bargain. 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 charter presentation highlighted two important things. It’s one more reason why the labor laws of the nation needs to be reformed to assist workers. But more optimistically, it shows how worker solidarity can overcome even the most difficult obstacles.
As NTWA President Bhairavi Desai observed, “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. 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.”
Taking part in the charter ceremony at the AFL-CIO in Washington was U.S. Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis.