Austin’s taxi drivers association is affiliating with the largest federation of unions in the United States, the AFL-CIO.
At a press conference today, the Taxi Drivers Association of Austin announced a partnership with the AFL-CIO’s National Taxi Workers Alliance.
Becky Moeller is president of the Texas AFL-CIO. She says Austin drivers can’t obtain collective bargaining because they’re independent contractors, which excludes them from many U.S. labor laws. But she says drivers can negotiate with the city and employers on an informal basis.
Moeller adds that the change will allow the organizations to “speak with one voice, whereas before they would speak and we would assist them. And now they’re actually part of organized labor and we’re excited about that.”
Similar union locals for taxi drivers exist in New York City and Philadelphia. But this Austin local is the first of its kind in Texas.
“For a number of years we have fielded calls from taxi drivers all across this state,” Moeller says. “There really was not a mechanism – because they’re not covered under the [National Labor Relations Board] – to organize … But we found a way thorough the national AFL-CIO.”
Austin has three licensed cab franchises: Austin Cab, Lone Star Cab and Yellow Cab.