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TAXICAB COMMISSION MINUTES
August 12, 2008 at 6:30 p.m.
City Hall,1 Dr. Carlton B. Goodlett Place
STAFF IN ATTENDENCE: Executive Director Jordanna Thigpen, Executive Secretary Tamara Odisho, City Attorney Tom Owen
Executive Director Jordanna Thigpen- Reads cell phone admonishment
· Roll Call: Benjamin, Breslin, Gillespie, Oneto, Suval
Absent: Paek, Slaughter
2. Staff Report and Commissioner Announcements [INFORMATION]
*There were no Commissioner or staff comments on this item.
Peter Witt: Staff does not regulate but is overseer of the industry.
Jim Kennedy: Role of Executive director is not regulator but rather an enforcer. Why are there surprise inspections? Staff and other agencies raided American cab company on July 3, 2008.
Keith Raskin: Working on a illegal flyer to put onto taxis.
Ron Fishman: July 3, 2008 American cab had only 3 days to fix issues and was very inappropriate.
3. Consideration of Amendments to Rules 4.C.1, 5.K.1 and 6.A.11: Eliminating Prepayments/Deposits
and Converting the Industry to Daily Shifts (Gas and Gates) Only [INFORMATION AND POSSIBLE ACTION]
Com Oneto: Concerned with prepayments at Yellow cab.
Executive Director Thigpen: Overview of item and power point presentation.
Com Breslin: Are all taxi companies paying UI now? Commission should find out if drivers are considered contractors or employers.
Executive Director Thigpen: EDD regulates who is an employee or contractor.
Anne Hipshman, Industry of Labor Relations: Overview of power point presentation
Com Oneto: Are prepayments illegal?
Ms. Hipshman: Gas and gate system has carried approval through the court. But it may be illegal. Employee can’t be required to pay to go to work and is illegal under California law.
President Gillespie: Difficult to pass a law that the Commissioners have just learned about.
Com Oneto: For those who didn’t understand what I explained before, long term lease was included because I was not sure which way Yellow cab was going with this. Leases were in this because I needed to notice in 10 days and the Board of Supervisors.
Jim Gillespie: Yellow has been in council with legal counsel, state folks and other agencies will discuss this issue and reserves comments to a later time.
Com Oneto: Will Yellow implement the prepayments? The Commission is responding to A card holders who are part of the regulatory process without informing the commission.
Jim Gillespie: This is a business decision and not a rules and regulations decision that the Commission regulates. We are changing the way we are collecting our funding and not being secret about it and didn’t see it as a necessity to come to the Commission.
Com Oneto: Are the drivers going to be given interest on their prepayments?
Richard Weiner: Yellow’s motivation is to be able to maintain customer service and has been in the lease for years to be able to collect in either the beginning or the end of their shift. Yellow has set the standards for the industry over the years.
Jim Kennedy: Compliments to the Commission for placing this item on the agenda. A lot of these drivers are not paying taxes. This is the most overregulated business and Commission should let the market delegate the industry.
Tariq Mehmood: Considers himself as an independent contractor and not an employee.
John Han: Spoke with EDD auditor and was told that 28 day prepayment is legal. But Yellow cabs policy is questionable and nothing is in writing and there is no written policy that can refer to. The contract also states that 25% of the deposit will be held which is considered as a deposit.
Mark Gruberg: Fire burning at Yellow cab that needs to be put out. Yellow cab is requesting the Commission to table this item, but they are not tabling this item. They are being dishonest.
Ron Fishman: If the lease agreement was illegal the companies would be sued. If drivers would be considered as employees then the cost of running a company would be higher and would request higher gas and gates. Cab drivers prefer independent contractor status.
Kadrundra: UTW is objecting because they want us to be employees, we are independent contractors. As employees we would have to cut 50% of our salary, which is why we don’t want to be employees.
Sam Arayn: Companies must make money and drivers should have the freedom to choose between employees or independent contractors. Commission should not over regulate.
Charles Rathbone: The focus is 100% on drivers and companies. Gates and gases has its (+) and (-), service interruptions have not happened since. City should take a long hard look before changing the system.
Carl Macmurdo: Found the speaker to be overbearing. Industry cannot regulate employees
Keith Raskin: Prepayment could have possible benefits since the drivers would be able to have some interest.
Steven Reemers: Know what we are doing and have been doing it for years. Yellow spent a long time figuring this out and know drivers live paycheck to paycheck.
Emil Lawrence: If Yellow goes bankrupt and take the money from drivers it will be an issue that has not been addressed. Prepayment also pays for days that drivers do not work. Shareholders at Yellow want more income which is why Yellow is requiring the prepayments.
Bud Hazelkorn: Only drivers who make money have second and third incomes. Many drivers make less than $100/day. Absurd one must have to pay to work.
Dave Schnider: What Yellow is doing is exploiting drivers. At one point, all employees had benefits.
Blake Derby: Requests a full commission. Vast majority want to be independent contractors. Elaborate ruse of the City to over regulate the business. City owns the medallions, why doesn’t it take the liability?
Thomas George Williams: State sees drivers as employees and the federal government as independent contractors. Canada has created another category called dependent contractors.
President Gillespie: Are you being treated as an employee or as an independent contractor at Green Cab?
Thomas George Williams: I pay gas and gates.
Mary McGuire: Mark Gruberg tells everyone what to do, why doesn’t he treat his drivers like employees?
Mike Spain: Yellow often acts based on a force that they need to protect their interests. Anyone can shuttle people around and work by the hour. Why would cab drivers not opt for those jobs? Because they like the freedom they have to make as much as they can in 10 hours and they most prefer that status.
Jane Bolig: Understands the urgency of the August 15 deadline, but heard Jim Gillespie say they pushed the deadline to December and will have several months to decide. These issues are not entirely clear and hope there is an accommodation with the full facts.
Name Unknown: Drivers would like to be considered independent contractors, other jobs do not allow them this flexibility.
John Reigns: Always has been considered independent contractor but has heard the issue being tossed around about the legality of Yellow charging this deposit. Commission disallowed that completely and Yellow is thumbing their noses at the law and now nothing is being done. Why is there a need for discussion if it is illegal for Yellow Cab being allowed to do it?
David Miller: Single shifter at Yellow, cannot believe they don’t understand that prepayment will have the opposite effect they think it will have. Suggests the Commission act strongly tonight.
Peter Witt: Yellow should reflect on driver morale and asks how they expect a new driver to want to come into the company.
Liz Bradley: Has some money saved for a surgery to have a broken arm fixed and is resentful towards Yellow for that. She is losing $500-700 a month for gas. Commission has not taken a stance towards anything.
Com Breslin: Jim you mentioned that long-term leases was being left off until December. Would Yellow be willing to postpone the August 15 deadline? Is a business person and knows there are things she is not privy too but would like to know.
Jim Gillespie: The only action being taken on August 15 is the payments of gas and gate before the shift which is in the contract.
Susan Suval: If you prepay and you don’t drive do you have to pay? What percentage of the industry is long term leases?
President Gillespie: No action until better understands what’s going on. What he heard from the state is contrary to what others in the state are practicing. Does not appreciate what the Board of Supervisors did without holding a hearing and without understanding the issue.
Com Breslin: There’s a lot of information that is being brought to the table. Charging for a vehicle is charging for a tool and not for work. Is asking Yellow to strongly consider a delay of implementing this practice. There is a certain stability to be gained. Not prepared to make a change in the industry.
President Gillespie: Strongly urges the Federal government, state and local companies to work out this issue sooner rather than later.
Com Oneto: Board of Supervisors are trying to protect low income working people. Yellow should have come to the table to discuss this and this doesn’t change the employment status of the cab drivers since this won’t even fix their problem. Should only implement the prepayment system after the research is done. Yellow brought the August 15 deadline, we didn’t set it.
Com Breslin: The Supervisors’ resolution only urges why didn’t they prohibit it? It puts us in a position of a legal binding issue, which should be addressed in court.
Com Benjamin: Even if this is implemented on August 15, why can’t we do something after? I haven’t seen many Yellow cab people complaining.
Com Oneto: Only medallion holders came to speak and not A-card holders. If they don’t pay they can’t drive. Would like to have a round table with all the parties before this item is tabled.
Susan Suval: Should stop this until we have a hearing.
Pres Gillespie: What the state is asserting is the law and what the state is practicing are on a collision course.
Com Oneto: Ten day notice allows a rule change. Can we make a resolution that would allow the commission to make a rule change suspending prepayments?
City Attorney: Yes, you can make a regulation. You can adopt a resolution urging them to hold off on taking a prepayment until the Commission makes a decision.
Com Benjamin: We shouldn’t be regulating the business until we see a problem. Trying to anticipate what will happen is difficult, we should come back to this after they have already implemented it.
4. Consent Calendar [ACTION]
Pres Gillespie: Continue to call of the chair items C2- Henry Marsicano, C3- Tesfamariam Zemikael, D1- David Reyes, D4- Parminder Singh, and F4- Long Ngo and F5- Grigory Andarasnik for recusals.
Charles Rathbone: Item C2-Henry Marsicano thought his ADA accommodation was a full waiver of his driving requirement. Urge Commission to grant his medallion.
Jim Kennedy: Noticed a lot of DeSoto drivers leaving the company because it increased the cost of doing business.
David Reyes: Working two jobs and is on disability because was hurt on the job as a MUNI operator. Would like an extension.
Emil Lawrence: How does the Commission audit waybills,
Mary McGuire: Green cab solicits medallion holders and wonders why George Lancia is going to Green cab.
Thomas George Williams: Offers very competitive deals to medallion holders and new vehicles and plenty reasons to come to the company.
President Gillespie: Will continue agenda items 5-7 but will take public comments.
5. Consideration of Addition of Rule 8.A.17, Requiring Minimum Size for Dispatch Services [DISCUSSION AND POSSIBLE ACTION]
Jim Kennedy: Waited all night for this agenda item and is now being continued. If you close down the dispatch companies’ drivers will not have options for transferring their medallions.
8. Public Comment (Please limit public comment to items NOT on the agenda)
Peter Witt: Has submitted 2008 taxi survey.
Carl Macmurdo: Board of Appeals hearing of Young Yi and because the Commission has not adopted an ADA policy for applicants on the list and so the Board has.
Liz Bradley: Where’s the surcharge for the drivers, need relief.
Mark Gruberg: Commissioners typically represent their seats and Paul doesn’t represent drivers.
Jim Kennedy: Dispatch survey unethical and incorrect. American has ads in the yellow pages which are better than the other company.
Ron Fishman: To keep up with inflation the meter should be $3.20/mile. Amazing that no one in the city has taken an action to alleviate the burden of gas.
Mary McGuire: You had no right to send people home.
Jane Bolig: Doesn’t think the job of an advocate must always take a proper position has never taken a destructive position and thanks him for being fair.
Naigm Malik: Do something for the drivers, bill of rights, decrease the gas and gate.
Marty Smith: It took a lot of power to be up here tonight and do what you did.
Robert Dunkinson: Doing a good job
Thomas George Williams: Companies should pay for gas. Pilots do not pay their own gas, city hall is not doing anything right now, tip your driver better.
9. Adjournment - 9:55 PM