Nicki Jenns

Rolling Strike: Taxi Drivers Protest against Strict Regulations

Friday was a busy day for the Anchorage City Hall as several dozen of taxis gathered there to make their statement loud and clear. They drove around the downtown, loudly honking the horns to let the management listen to their plight.

It was an hour-long rolling-strike organized by Anchorage Taxi Workers Alliance in protest of unfair practices in the business.

The taxi industries is currently facing a lot of regulations from the government while all the ride-hailing companies like Uber are enjoying the liberty.

The spokesperson of the Anchorage Taxi Worker Association, Mr. Timothy Huit says, “We’re not going to give up because they’re putting us on our knees so we just want to let them know we’re ready and we will fight for our right and for the people in the taxi industry.”

Huit added that all they want is that all the drivers should be regulated under the same rules or not regulated at all.

"I'm not saying people shouldn't ride with who they want but we know what happens in America when we regulate one industry and we don't regulate another. The regulated industry either goes out of business or suffers a great financial loss."

He further asserted that the cab drivers have experienced a 30% slump in their revenues while he also admitted that a part of it can be credited to the rising number of taxi permits and the down economy.

The representative from Uber Anchorage, Mr. David O’Malley said that having fewer regulation is indeed a great idea but he also raised a concern for the state of Alaska.

“We want to keep Uber the way it is. We don’t want municipal control over it," O'Malley said.

The taxi driver union presented a list of demand to their Mayor, Ethan Berkowitz. The comprehensive list includes regulating companies like Uber and Lyft and also to temporarily stop issuing new taxi permits till 2022. The list also includes a request to replace the operational transportation inspector.

The taxi drivers also bargained on the high number of incidents involving Uber taxis. The records say that Uber auto accident lawyer were hired more number of times than other taxi lawyers.

The association is strict to get the list of demand accepted. Huit said that if the demand letter is well accepted in time it will be beneficial for both the parties, however if it does not get timely treatment, there could be a longer strike than this which would also affect prime areas of the city including hospitals and airports.

There are many taxi companies that have expanded in America as well as other nations in the world and Uber is one of them. The company is on a rapid growth phase and perhaps enjoying a few biased benefits. Such strikes against the company will surely bring effects in the near future.

Meanwhile, the Anchorage Taxi association members appear very much upset from the biasedness of the Government and do not seem to settle down without a proper deal with the officials.