Christopher Fulkerson 
Member since Jul 17, 2012


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Re: “Fired Up!

The Tucson public almost certainly does not realize that it is getting a much worse form of cab service than it should get. Throughout the country, the cab companies are fighting the advent of any kind of "Google Maps of Taxi Dispatch." It sounds as though both the dispatch and the employee contracts in Tucson are very similar to those in San Francisco, where I have worked as a driver for over 21 years.

The IC contract prevents the companies from actually having to provide cab service to the public. With the IC situation, the companies are NOT in the cab business, they are in the CAR LEASING business, so the companies are NOT motivated to complete individual orders. The companies are only motivated to get more cabs on the road. Because the companies do NOT want the drivers to complete orders easily, and instead want more cabs, they retard the dispatch system.

Preventing good dispatch is a red flag meaning the companies are squelching the development of the public service. THERE IS NO GOOD REASON TO PREVENT BETTER DISPATCH, and only lack of public awareness allows the corrupt company practices to continue.

With a "Google Maps of Taxi Dispatch," every person in Tucson could see every Tucson cab 24/7, touch an icon to hail the nearest or preferred cab, and talk to the driver on the phone within seconds. Any kind of online device, anywhere, would work. This would be HUGE for the public, good for the drivers, and WOULD NOT DIRECTLY HARM THE COMPANIES, though it would change their politics forever, since they could not longer claim that more cabs are needed to improve service. The companies would have to admit that cab service is about getting cabs to the customers, not about flooding the streets randomly with cabs. It could mean that the companies would need a different incentive plan, such as a share of the meter, even 5% or 10% would look attractive to them, and then they would no longer have a profit ceiling based on number of cabs they lease; instead they would be motivated to get cabs to the people. At present, as leasing companies, THE CAB COMPANIES' CUSTOMERS ARE THE DRIVERS, NOT THE PUBLIC.

The "Independent Contractor" status is well-known as a sham. As one San Francisco cab executive agreed with me, the IC contract is a protracted form of scab labor. The cab companies treat the drivers as employees when it is convenient, and as ICs when that is convenient instead. The companies are having it both ways, in a scheme that employees in few other industries ever experience, so the public is woefully unaware of the injustice to itself, for getting bad service, or to the drivers, who are treated worse than other employees - obviously, the IC contract attempts to claim that drivers are "not" employees. If this situation prevailed in industries where a lot of people work for low pay, from coffee shops to copy shops, more people would be aware of the crudeness of exploitation of this type, which is among the worst in the American labor market.

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Posted by Christopher Fulkerson on 07/17/2012 at 12:10 PM

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  • Fired Up!

    Tucson cabbies question the legality of their independent-contractor status
    • Jul 12, 2012
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