Cathy Rojas, the only socialist running for NYC mayor, joins the fight of the New York City taxi cab drivers who have been organizing a 24 hour protest outside of City Hall for the last couple of weeks to demand immediate medallion debt forgiveness. “The current administration has failed taxi drivers. The City’s predatory lending policy, as well the complete lack of regulation of companies like Uber and Lyft, are a direct result of a government that puts profit before people. I stand with taxi drivers who are organizing and demanding debt forgiveness now!”
From 2004 to 2013, the City inflated the price of medallions, advertising directly to taxi drivers that owning a medallion was one of the most secure investments. Yet in 2014, the City allowed companies like Uber and Lyft to offer their ridesharing services unregulated. This created a situation where cheap rides offered by underpaid and exploited gig workers were competing with services offered by taxi drivers who had shelled out the price of a home for a medallion. Medallion prices plummeted, leaving taxi workers in hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt.
According to New York Taxi Workers Alliance, a union formation of both taxi workers and app-based drivers, the average medallion owner loan balance is $550,000 while the average sale price is $100,000. Many workers are in their 50s and 60s and realistically have no way to pay off this debt within their lifetime.
This level of government negligence is not only irresponsible, it’s deadly. Since 2017, nine taxi drivers have committed suicide. When Team Rojas went to speak to taxi workers at their picket last weekend, we met workers who were struggling to survive under mountains of debt and whose family, friends, and mentors had committed suicide. Despite the obstacles, the resolve of the workers remains strong and they are determined to win. They have created a proposal that is superior to the City’s plan to address what has become a form of indentured servitude.
We stand with taxi drivers picketing in the streets to demand:
- Restructuring of medallion debt at $145,000 and refinance for $800 per month; or to make cash settlements for no more than $145,000
- A government backstop or guarantee to incentivize the debt restructuring
- Foreclosed medallions to be returned to the original owner at these same terms
- Congress to pass Congressman Gregory Meeks’ bill (House bill 5617) for tax exemption on medallion debt forgiveness
- Congress to pass a national ban on confessions of judgment for small business contracts
- Restitution for medallion owners over 62 years of age
You can support the taxi workers’ struggle by:
- Joining the 24/7 protest outside City Hall (Broadway & Murray)
- Signing the petition: change.org/endcabbiedebt
- Calling the current Mayor at 212-788-2162 and telling him that you support the drivers’ plan.