- Posted March 22, 2012 by
San Francisco, California
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S.F. taxi cab companies flagrantly ignore S.F. Superior Court's ruling
This is how the industry works. Independent taxi drivers pay security deposits, car rental fees and dispatcher fees ("tips") to cab companies whom are responsible for providing auto insurance (including uninsured motorist coverage), access to health insurance, and provide state Unemployment Insurance benefits, state disability insurance, and Workers' Compensation insurance. However, most of them refuse to provide any form of insurance at all on the basis that the drivers are independent contractors, which is illegal because of the Superior Court's ruling.
When drivers get into accidents their employers go to extremes to prove that the driver was at fault in order to release themselves from liability. Additionally, when drivers are robbed and injured or killed while on duty their employers do not provide Workers' Compensation insurance, disability, or life insurance for their families. They abandon them. To compound the matter, neither the cab company nor the driver has been paying Social Security taxes which means that if his/her dependents won't qualify for benefits if he/she dies. It's as if they're undocumented workers and so they have no safety net at all.
This is a list of the fees that independent drivers pay to the taxi cab companies:
Rental Fees for a taxi cab (known as "Gates"): $100 for a 12 hour shift during the week. During the weekend it's $150 per 12 hour shift. Cab companies rent out the cars on back to back shifts, and so they collect approximately $5,200 per month in rental fees for each car.
Dispatch Fees (known as "tips"): $20 per shift. Drivers pay dispatchers $10 when they arrive to pick up a car, and then they pay an additional $10 at the end of their shift when they drop off the car.
Gas: Drivers pay for gas. They spend approximately $60 per shift to drive a sedan.
Security Deposits for taxi cabs: The deposit amount varies depending on the cab company.
There is a silent investor called a "medallion owner" who condones this corrupt system. They hold the licenses and permits to operate the taxis, which they transfer to cab companies in exchange for a monthly fee.
The governing agency is supposed to be the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA), however, their jurisdiction is limited to processing permits. They own the medallions but they have nothing to do with the rental agreements that exist in between the "medallion owners" and the cab companies, and in between the cab companies and the independent taxi drivers.
Dean Clark has a good idea, which is to make the medallions non transferable so that only the medallion owner would be allowed to drive the cab, which ensures that it's properly insured, and that cab companies aren't raping independent contractors with exorbitant fees without providing health, disability, life, unemployment or Workers' Compensation insurance. It would put an end to the corruption. The SFMTA can sell more medallions at a reduced price and offer in-house financing so that independent drivers can become medallion owners themselves. They would also have the flexibility to work only during the busy times when they would make a profit.
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