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'United To Win'
United To Win
The Quarterly Newsletter of the United Taxicab Workers
Sponsored by Communications Workers of America, Local 9410
Volume XIX Number 3 Summer 2006
Executive Director Fired,
After Mayor Replaces Commissioners
companies have long pushed their weight around at the Taxi Commission
— but for once they pushed too hard.
Under intense pressure from companies and permit holders, the
commission defied Mayor Gavin Newsom and dismissed its Executive
Director, Heidi Machen. The decision was made in the early morning
of June 28 after an eight-hour meeting, including a three-hour
closed session on the executive director’s dismissal.
The mayor, who employed Machen as an aide when he was a member
of the Board of Supervisors and hired her for the commission
position, shot right back. He replaced two commissioners who...
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drivers in the taxi lot at SFO watch the final game of the soccer
World Cup pitting France against Italy.
Passengers can wait: cab drivers react in the SFO taxi lot as
Italy beats France to win the World Cup.
Elected Commission President
Cab driver Paul Gillespie, an original member of the Taxi
Commission, was elected its president at the commission's
July 25 meeting. The post became vacant after Mayor Gavin
Newsom replaced the former president, cab company representative
Martin Smith, with Richard Benjamin of Luxor Cab.
Gillespie, the commission's driver representative and a past
vice-president, has a liberal arts degree from San Francisco
State with a concentration in environmental studies. He served
on the Mayor's Taxi Task Force in 1997-1998.
“It's a tremendous vote of confidence to be elected
president, and I hope to use this opportunity to strengthen
and enhance our unique system of permitting, build on our
success in hybrid taxis, paratransit and driver safety, and
tackle difficult issues like driver health care and disability
for permit holder and non-permit holder alike,” Gillespie
Gain Commission Appointments
Gavin Newsom has made three appointments to the Taxi Commission.
Richard Benjamin is a former police officer and currently
works in risk management and accident investigation at Luxor
Cab. He was appointed as cab company representative, replacing
Tom Oneto is a third-generation San Franciscan and the former
business representative for Teamsters Local 490. He was appointed
to replace Mary McGuire as labor representative.
Malcom Heinicke is an attorney whose focus is labor and employment
litigation. He was chair of the Human Rights Commission before
joining the Taxi Commission as its neighborhood representative,
filling the seat left vacant by the death of former Commission
President Arthur Jackson.
The mayor also reappointed two sitting commissioners, cab
driver representative Paul Gillespie and general public representative
Min Paek. Both Gillespie and Paek voted to retain Executive
Director Heidi Machen at the June 27 meeting that resulted
in her dismissal
Study Recommends Permit Transferability
Cites Permit Profits As ‘Core Inequity’ in System
study of the taxi industry recommends making taxi permits transferable
— but admits that it would be hard to convince voters to pass
such a measure. The study was performed by graduate students at
the Goldman School of Public Policy at the University of California
at Berkeley, at the request of Mayor Gavin Newsom and Supervisor
The students’ report, entitled “The San Francisco Taxicab
Industry: An Equity Analysis,” cited “windfall profits”
permit holders receive from cab companies for leasing their medallions
as a “core inequity” that “results in a wide disparity
in the quality of life of medallion holders versus non-medallion
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The Board of Supervisors has approved
a proposed ordinance modifying the Proposition K driving requirement
for cab company “key personnel”. Supervisor Sean
Elsbernd sponsored the legislation, which Mayor Gavin Newsom
signed on June 14.
Under the ordinance, company “key personnel” who
are employed at least 1,500 hours a year could comply with the
requirement by driving a taxi 120 hours a year. Companies can
designate eligible employees according to a formula based on
UTW opposed a much more lenient version of the proposal as recommended
by the Taxi Commission last year, but reached a compromise with
cab companies and permit holders on the final legislation. It
goes into effect Jan. 1, 2007.
Veterans Permits Returned
Eight of 25 corporate taxicab permits held by Veterans Cab
were surrendered July 25 for reissuance to taxicab permit applicants
under a settlement agreement between the company and the Taxi
Commission. A ninth permit was also due to be returned.
Veterans originally agreed to surrender the eight medallions
in January, but United Taxicab Workers appealed the settlement
to the Board of Appeals. The board upheld the agreement by a
Commission staff subsequently agreed to allow Veterans to keep
the medallions until July.
The ninth medallion was to be surrendered under a formula linking
return of the remaining permits to the death of Veterans shareholders.
One of seven remaining shareholders recently passed away.
Drivers on Gates
Francisco cab companies are violating the city's gate cap, which
limits the amount companies can charge drivers for leasing taxis
by the shift.
According to a recent report prepared by the Board of Supervisors'
legislative analyst, companies can charge no more than $85 a shift
on average. But all major companies, and some smaller ones, are
charging more than the legal limit.
The gate cap goes back to 1999. At that time, it was set at $83.50
a shift. The cap was the culmination of a long battle, led by United
Taxicab Workers, to curb runaway gates.
The gate remained at $83.50 until January 2003, when it was increased
to $91.50, including a $1.50 charge destined for the paratransit
program. But the city ordinance increasing the gate contained several
conditions, one of which was the enactment of a health care plan
for cab drivers by Jan. 1, 2004.
Under the ordinance, in the absence of a health care plan the gate
was to drop back to $85, unless the City Controller certified in
writing by Oct. 1, 2003 that such a plan was not feasible. The Controller's
report of October 2003 concluded that “providing benefits
to drivers is possible,” and discussed options for doing so.
The Board of Supervisors extended the deadline for the plan's enactment
until September 2004. At that time, gates should have come down,
but at most companies they did not.
Of the major companies, only DeSoto was charging the lower gate,
and that was because...
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the Taxi Commission
Commission meets the second and fourth Tuesdays of each month at
6:30 p.m., in room 400 of City Hall. Special meetings may be scheduled
as needed. The following is a summary of significant commission
proceedings at recent meetings:
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Chair Fired From National Cab
Cab fired me because I am politically active for the dignity
of San Francisco's taxicab drivers. They used an outrageous
newly made-up rule: "Drivers who drive brake pads down
to metal have to pay $100 to replace the brake rotor."
I drove National Cab #561 for several months with the brake
here to read this article
Cab # 980, assigned to UTW Chair Thomas George-Williams, broke
down when the right front wheel gave out.
drivers who observe problems or have disputes with dispatchers inside
the garage or at the terminal stands at San Francisco International
Airport should contact the on-duty shift manager at one of the following
(650) 821-2700 or (650) 821-2704
Problems or complaints can also be addressed to Landside Operations:
Report Illegal Taxis
you witness limousines acting as taxis or out-of-town
or unlicensed cabs picking up in San Francisco, please report the
following to the Taxi Detail: 1) date and time; 2) location; 3)
license plate; 4) if a limo, the TCP number; 4) if an out-of-town
cab, the company and cab number; 5) any phone number on the vehicle.
The number to call 24 hours a day is 553-1447.
UNITED TO WIN is
published quarterly by United Taxicab Workers.
We welcome the submission of letters, photos and articles
to be considered for publication.
Printer: Graffik Natwicks, 760 Bryant St., S.F. 94107.
Editor: Mark Gruberg