UPDATED 06/27/12 12:54 p.m.
CHICAGO (CBS) — Some Chicago cabbies are calling for a strike to coincide with the enactment of a new ordinance that raises their lease rates, but not fares.
As WBBM Newsradio’s Mike Krauser reports, the ordinance involves new regulations that increase the price of leasing a cab by up to 30 percent. The cabbies say they the price hike will be detrimental without a fare increase.
LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s Mike Krauser reports
“What Chicago will have is a sweatshop on wheels,” said activist Michael McConnell, standing with cabbies at City Hall calling for a strike next Monday.
“The drivers work for free every day to come up with the lease and the gas, and then after eight hours of slaving on the streets of Chicago, they start money for their family,” said Fayez Khozindar, chairman of the United Drivers Community Council. “This must be put to an end.”
Khozindar is a longtime cabbie who represents 2,000 drivers.
“They are not slaves. They are humans. They don’t live in their cabs. They live in houses. They don’t eat gas. They eat groceries,” Khozindar said.
Cabbies have tried to stage strikes before, but because they are independent contractors, many would not participate.
Back in February, the city’s Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection and Ald. Anthony Beale (9th), who chairs the City Council Transportation Committee, said a hearing on the fare hike request will be held after the new regulations take effect. At that point, that date was six to seven months in the future.
The new taxi regulations also include a limit on the age of vehicles that can be on the roads, by lowering the maximum number of miles on a newly-converted taxi to 75,000 from 150,000.
Also, on-the-road training will be required before cab drivers are licensed and driving records will be reviewed more than once a year.
Drivers will also be restricted to 12-hour workdays – excluding breaks – and taxi companies must keep detailed records of how long their cabbies are on the road every day.
The new rules also authorize the city’s consumer protection department to create rules to require GPS technology in all cabs to help enforce the 12-hour driving limit for cabbies.
There are 15,000 cabbies in the city.