Monday, August 11, 2003

Minneapolis Taxi drivers call for one-day walkout over health and safety conditions

I think we could all learn a lesson in direct action for Minneapolis's Somali cabdrivers
August 11, 2003 -- Somali cabdrivers in Minneapolis said Sunday they will stage a one-day walkout to honor the two cabbies who were fatally shot in the past month and to draw attention to their security concerns.

More than 40 cabdrivers met at William Mitchell College of Law in St. Paul and agreed to park their cabs for 24 hours Aug. 18. They said they plan to ask non-Somali drivers to do the same. There are hundreds of cabdrivers in Minneapolis.

During the two-hour meeting, cabbies also said they intended to drive their cabs in a procession to Gov. Tim Pawlenty's office at the State Capitol in hopes of meeting with him.

Taxicab driving is one of the nation's most dangerous occupations, according to a report by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health. Drivers at Sunday's meeting say neither their employers nor the city of Minneapolis have done enough to make their jobs safer.

They are asking that bullet-proof partitions and security cameras be installed in their cabs. So far, cab companies have been unwilling to pay for such upgrades, and Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak made it clear Friday that public money wouldn't be provided for private businesses.

Cabdriver Mustafa Hussen said that parking the cabs is worth losing one day's pay to show the solidarity that exists among the drivers.

"The strike is to remember the two brothers we lost in the community of taxi drivers," Hussen said. "The strike will be an expression of concerns that have not been addressed."
More here and here and here.