GTA taxi drivers join unionization wave

MARKHAM, ON, Nov. 15, 2011 /CNW/ - Yesterday, taxi drivers in the GTA towns of Richmond Hill and Markham voted overwhelmingly to join the Ontario Taxi Workers Union (OTWU).

Drivers employed by Markham and Avenue Taxi and Limousine Service spoke of the need to unite for respect, to have a voice with both their employer and to address critical issues with the towns of Richmond Hill and Markham. "Today, drivers have won a real voice in our future and in the decisions that affect our lives," said Imtiaz Khurdshid, a driver at Markham Taxi.

The taxi industry in Ontario is heavily regulated, with various municipal by-laws affecting everything from setting meter rates to specialized training, and many other requirements for taxi drivers.

In Hamilton, Toronto and now Richmond Hill and Markham, drivers are joining the push for political reform. "We know drivers across the province are joining the OTWU so we can have a voice and power when we deal with our municipalities and our employers," said Ejaz Butt, OTWU President.

The OTWU was founded by Hamilton taxi drivers in 2009. Since that time drivers for both major brokerages in that city, Blue Line and Hamilton Cab, have joined the union. With yesterday's victory at Markham Taxi the OTWU has grown to over 1,200 members.

In the last three years, taxi organizations have sprung up across North America signaling a renewed effort to unite and protect working drivers. Union drives have been successful in Fort McMurray, Calgary, Hamilton, Richmond Hill and Markham. The OTWU affiliate, the Toronto iTaxiworkers Association, has grown to over 800 members and the New York Taxi Workers Alliance recently received a union charter for its over 15,000 drivers.

OTWU executive director Jacob Leibovitch notes, "We feel the momentum and support from taxi drivers everywhere. As more drivers win victories at city hall and at their brokerages, we expect that drivers from more communities will vote to join the OTWU and win the power to press for respect and dignity."

The OTWU and the United Steelworkers (USW) cooperate to support advances for taxi drivers.  The USW provides a range of services to the OTWU to assist in its growth and representation of its members.

SOURCE Ontario Taxi Workers Union (OTWU)

For further information:

Media contact: Jacob Leibovitch, Executive Director, OTWU, cell: 647-885-8294, jacob.itaxi@gmail.com


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