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Should cab drivers be able to freely choose the company they work for? That’s the question a task force created by the Alexandria city council is grappling with.
Presently, cabbies can only leave their company during a short window every two years. But practically it’s even difficult to switch companies at that point, said cabbie leader Daniel Berhane. “We have companies who take advantage of it,” he said. “They don’t have to do any work at all or provide you the service that you need.”
“We don’t think the city should be standing between workers and their ability to seek improved working conditions,” cabbie advocate and attorney Aurora Vasquez said at a task force meeting earlier this month. “Workers [shouldn’t] be obligated to remain with their current boss before seeking better working conditions,” she said.
Spencer Kimball, owner of Alexandria Yellow Cab, disputes the notion that cabbies don’t have the freedom to choose their company. “They’re not held hostage,” he said. Kimball suggested unhappy cabbies “can go to another area, another jurisdiction and find a place where they would be happier.”
At his company, no cabbie should feel pressure to stay since “there are over 400 applicants waiting for the opportunity to drive for Alexandria Yellow Cab right now,” he said. But “this is by no means any sort of threat to anybody,” explained Kimball.