“My life has been taken away from me, and I have been making an attempt to get it again for fairly a while now,” stated taxi driver Mohamadou Aliy, 49, on Wednesday. Aliy was in the midst of his second week of a starvation strike, and spoke with a fleece blanket wrapped round his physique. Together with dozens of different taxi drivers—plus a lot of their mates and households—Aliy was huddled exterior of New York’s Metropolis Corridor, the place members of the New York Taxi Employees Alliance (NYTWA) had been gathering for weeks to protest a system of predatory lending engineered by a handful of business leaders that has left hundreds of New York taxi drivers saddled with crushing quantities of debt.
With a view to drive a taxi in New York, a employee should get hold of a allow often called a taxi medallion. The value of a New York Metropolis taxi medallion peaked at as a lot as $1.3 million in 2013, however business leaders (together with bankers, medallion brokers, fleet buyers, and extra) have been artificially inflating the worth of those medallions for many years. Many taxi drivers who needed to personal their very own cabs took on substantial loans to afford these medallions. Then in 2014, the marketplace for medallions collapsed, partly as a result of elevated reputation of ride-share providers like Uber and Lyft.
Whereas Mayor Invoice de Blasio introduced some measure of aid for taxi drivers in March, many felt that the plan—which, crucially, didn’t present a city-backed mortgage assure—didn’t go far sufficient. Ever since September, members of the NYTWA and their allies had been tenting out at Metropolis Corridor whereas the union negotiated with native politicians for—amongst different issues—city-backed mortgage restructuring. A starvation strike by some drivers started in late October. As of Wednesday, most of the taxi drivers gathered on Broadway had not eaten for ten or extra days.