If you were curious about how taxi drivers around the US feel about the rise of the private ridesharing mob, look no further than The New York Times. The newspaper of record is reporting that American taxi drivers are starting to talk seriously about forming a national taxi driver's union.
One Chicago cabbie, Karen Chamberlain, told the Times that there will be a big hurdle to forming this union is the tremendous diversity among drivers: "It's definitely a United Nations. ... This is a hard business to get people to come together and agree. There are so many different nationalities and different languages. Nobody trusts each other."
They might soon have to. A flareup between the establishment and the upstarts took place recently at Chicago's O'Hare airport, where Uber rideshare drivers were going to pick people up. The problem is that there was an ordinance against just that sort of thing by non-taxi, non-limosine companies. But then the Chicago City Council said, hey, you know what, Uber (and other ridesharing companies) should be able to do that. And so now they can. Which has upset the taxi drivers, who decided they needed a bigger, collective voice. The Times says that the 17,000-member-strong NYC taxi driver's union is already starting to work with the Chicago cabbies. Other cities with sizable taxi unions include: Miami, Austin and Philly.
"The reason that taxi drivers are experiencing miserable conditions is because of the taxi companies" – Uber spokesman
An Uber spokesman told the Times that, "The reason that taxi drivers are experiencing miserable conditions is because of the taxi companies - it has nothing to do with Uber." Ridesharing company Lyft is already preparing for bigger legal battles by hiring high-power lobbying firms.
Dissatisfaction with ridesharing companies is not limited to the US. In the UK, the creators of the ridesharing app Hailo saw their offices vandalized – the word "scabs" was written on the wall – after the app was expanded to include private vehicle instead of just taxis. Halio also operates in a number of US cities, including New York.