Thursday, April 28, 2016

Failure To Gain Consensus

Yesterday's failed meeting between Yellow Taxi association operators and its board of directors is all about history and unmet expectations and grievances.  It is not coincidental that the chief complainants is that new group of operators now leasing individual medallions, a group that before now, were ultimately powerless to influence association policy.  Like the newly emancipated slave, they now want their equal rights, demanding an instantaneous  recognition heretofore unachievable.

While that emotion is understandable, it fails to understand that all of us in Seattle's taxi industry have labored under a false hierarchy and power structure created and maintained solely by Seattle and King County regulators.  By limiting the number of medallions, this artificial shortage allowed a class structure of have and have-nots to be created.  That the individuals profiting from this system are reluctant to retreat from what has been, until recently, an enviable "gravy train" is understandable and part of America's inherent economic system.  It is simple supply and demand.  In the past I have paid as little as $75.00 a month for an apartment in Seattle, and unbelievably, $29,000 for my first home in the Capital Hill neighborhood.  As everyone knows, those prices are long-gone, never to return.

Returning to the meeting, it started off badly when it was postponed from 11:00 AM to 1:30 PM.  Having to attend to some business concerning my cab, I missed the near riot and the calling of the police.   By the time we were all assembled in a small room, I clearly saw that, at least for this day, we would not be making much progress.  A list of demands were presented, including an unrealistic request to reduce the weekly dispatch lease payment from $180.00 to $80.00.  I can say that I did not participate in earlier operator meetings, which probably was a mistake.  I did tell one colleague prior to the meeting that the discount requested was too large, and would be met with disdainful resistance.

And  surprise, surprise, that is exactly was happened.  From there it was a downhill degeneration, with misunderstanding and some shouting taking over.  Where we proceed from here is any one's guess.

Even with time constraints, I will attempt to make more of future planning sessions.  It would be a mistake to repeat yesterday's fiasco.  There isn't any point. While long-term resolution is necessary, what occurred yesterday is counter-productive.  It is simply back to the revolution drawing board and hopefully we will all come up with a better blueprint, remembering never to get the police involved again in our affairs, their involvement certainly beyond sense and necessity.

1 comment:

  1. Interesting synopsis of your meeting Joe, though it does make one wonder if such a meeting of the minds will ever occur within this context.

    While true that leasing a medallion is somewhat different from leasing shifts, the burden of operation has now been entirely shifted onto you. I would also carefully re-read the contract you have signed with Yellow. There may be legal stipulations that will limit your maneuverability.

    After all, their driver contracts were atrocious!

    While also true that the City of Seattle played a role, the lack of adaptability on the part of the brain trust that runs Yellow has played a far more pivotal role.

    Their unwillingness to explore new business models to compete, in addition to preserving their business model in some context, prevented them from progressing beyond their status quo.

    Apparently, they still show no sign that they are capable of progressing and they probably never will.

    You will have to force them!

    Yellow preys on the weaknesses of their drivers.

    They know you are struggling and it has been a hard lesson acknowledging their own struggles, but they also place the burden of these failures upon you and your fellow drivers.

    They will never take any responsibility!

    It brings to mind the implementation of that horrible system and their indifference to the loss of business as a result, yet expect you to still bear the entire burden of their own incompetence.

    A word of advice; if you want to find a tool in terms of negotiation, HIT THEM WHERE IT HURTS; THEIR WALLETS!

    Do not talk about wanting to reduce dispatch fees, especially if their changes cost you even more business, on top of the losses due to that previous implementation.

    Negotiation will not work.

    Nor should you count of the Teamsters. They have done the industry no favors.

    Talk with your fellow drivers. Arrive at a price and then just universally pay it.


    Then they will talk!

    One final word of advice; keep in mind that the change from leasing shifts to leasing medallions might also boomerang upon the driver. Changes you expect from Yellow might lead to expectations from your end too. For example, a better, more productive fleet.

    To create that, this will cost everyone that now leases plates.

    As a side note, Uber drivers in both California and Massachusetts did the industry no favors by settling their respective lawsuits. They settled on two fronts; they agreed to maintain the independence of drivers, while Uber makes minor revisions to their review process; along with an acknowledgment and promise to work with Driver Associations (which I bet the Teamsters liked, though it will mean absolutely nothing to the drivers in the long term); as well as the lawsuit relating to tips.

    I guess a $100 million dollar settlement spoke louder than common sense.

    They did win their initial lawsuit at the federal level, so why settle now?

    This insanely bad legal advice will effect everyone in this industry because legally, it had an excellent chance of success at the Supreme Court level.

    $100 million is chump change to Uber!

    Such is life and best of luck!

    Signed, a former, fellow driver.