Tuesday, July 8, 2014
Great idea? Push $1 a mile higher taxi fare -- to make way for $15 minimum wage -- and to build Chicago taxi union
Just had a “great idea” (they always seem great to me, at first): if the minimum wage is raised to a minimally liveable amount, $15 an hour (FOR WHICH THERE IS NO ECONOMIC RATIONALE NOT TO) …
… then, taxi fares in Chicago will for all practical purposes AUTOMATICALLY have to be raised a dollar a mile because nobody will be willing to drive for slave wages anymore.
Therefore: there is CERTAINLY no economic rationale to not raise meter rates to a humane level RIGHT NOW! Passengers will certainly pay the extra dollar. Right now in Chicago the rate per mile is (adjusted for inflation) half a dollar below what it was in 1981 when I started driving here (retired 10 years ago — in San Francisco) — 50% higher per capita income later.
If (terribly) low taxi wage cities are not willing to add a dollar to the meter now — then — they can stop pretending that they are hesitant to raise the minimum to $15 an hour too quickly for fear of upsetting this that or the other thing. They just don’t care.
Another idea: American Federation of State, County & Municipal Employees Council 31 (AFSCME 31) is signing up taxi drivers in Chicago. One the one hand there is no employer opposition (lease drivers and owner drivers are both the CUSTOMER of the taxi companies). On the other had it is hard to explain the benefits if it is much more impractical to strike. IF 31 GETS OUT IN FRONT ON THE DOLLAR A MILE MORE-TAXI "MINIMUM WAGE", then, if successful everybody should join. Even if the union doesn't succeed the first time, the drivers will see something practical coming from the union. Remember there is no employer resistance.
Could happen: today's slave wage taxi drivers could open the way -- psychologically -- to quickening the adoption of $15 an hour minimum wage across the country -- emphasis on the word "quickening."
Quick history of Chicago's (dying) taxi wages — 1981 to 1997:
One 30 cent increase in the mile rate …
… at which 1990 mid-point the city (a) started building subways to both airports, (b) opening up unlimited limo licenses, (c) and putting on free trolleys between all the hot spots downtown (the Aquarium used to be our second hottest spot after O’Hare) …
… and 40% more taxis!