The Taxi Link airs Sat. 7-8 pm on WUST 1120 AM. Listen here:
The week began with Prince George’s County cabbies, the AFL-CIO and the local chapter of the NAACP saying Gaylord National Resort had run afoul of county law on July 17. By week’s end, county officials were saying the same thing.
On the day in question, as southern Prince George’s braced for an announced water shutoff that didn’t come to pass, Gaylord’s transportation vendor, Veolia, called in out-of-county (and state) cabs to assist with transporting passengers, a violation of county regulations. “The action taken by Gaylord was not legal,” said Carol Terry, spokeswoman for the Prince George’s Department of Public Works and Transportation.
The incident comes in the midst of local cabbies’ struggle to stay at National Harbor, the luxury resort and mini-city located on the Potomac River, just over the D.C. line in Prince George’s. Gaylord is both National Harbor’s and the east coast’s largest hotel.
The independent cabbies at National Harbor are pitted against Veolia, a French multinational corporation with a large and growing footprint in the D.C. area and a near-monopoly at Gaylord. The outside cabs Veolia brought in on July 17 belonged to companies it owns: EnviroCab of Arlington and Washington Flyer (Veolia owns one third of Washington Flyer’s 660 car fleet).
Veolia said this isn’t the first time it’s brought in outside cabs to Gaylord and it might not be the last. “We would only do that in the future under similar circumstances (we have done it in the past during taxi work stoppages),” Dwight Kines, Veolia Transportation vice president for the Mid Atlantic Region, said in an email to The Taxi Link.
“We brought in vehicles from other jurisdictions during a water emergency last week because we were overbooked with reservations due to the mass check out,” said Kines. “We could not count on taxis handling the overflow because we were informed that they were going to have a work stoppage similar to the one held during a large check out the previous week.”
In a statement provided to The Taxi Link, Gaylord said that on July 17 the independent cabbies who service the hotel “decided to protest and did not… provide taxi service to those guests that requested it.”
“That’s completely, totally false information… We were here [from the] early morning, 5 o’clock that day,” cabbie leader Fisseha Tesfaye said at a protest in front of Gaylord on Friday. “They’re showing that they don’t have any respect for the county drivers and the county laws too.”
“You can’t allow outsiders to come into the county and take work from residents in the county,” Bob Ross, president of the Prince George’s chapter of the NAACP, said at a press conference with cabbies and the AFL-CIO on Monday. “Somebody has to start listening to these issues. We are prepared to take action on this at the NAACP.”
Carol Terry said representatives from the Department of Public Works and Transportation and the Department of Permitting, Inspections and Enforcement had a “very constructive” meeting with representatives from Gaylord and Veolia. “Plans are underway to have another meeting in the near future to include the taxicab drivers and the AFL-CIO. DPW&T is working diligently to resolve this issue and believes that it can only be resolved through negotiations and understanding between all the parties.”
* This post was edited slightly since its initial posting.
AFL-CIO Charges Gaylord with Using Illegal Taxis (Union City)
National Harbor’s Invisible Men (TheFightBack)
The Taxi Link airs Saturday 7-8 p.m. on WUST 1120 AM. The show is sponsored by The Small Business Association of DC Taxicab Drivers, volunteer-hosted by TheFightBack’s Pete Tucker and D.C. Advisory Neighborhood Commission 1B Chairman Tony Norman, produced by Will Martin and engineered by Mark Taylor.