Cabdrivers of Broward Unite; Behind the Fort Lauderdale Airport Protests

Categories: Broward News
Organized labor, as pictured by management.
When Murat Jean-Charles motored into the Yellow Cab holding yard on a Wednesday morning last month, the cabbie didn't know his fellow drivers were about to uncork some civil disobedience. But the all-points call was already out among the fleet: Assemble at the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport. Jean-Charles joined the ranks.

Rows of cabs were lined up at the airport, but the drivers refused to take passengers. The work stoppage was a not-so-subtle message to Yellow Cab management. Excited cabbies politely ignored police requests to move their vehicles. Finally, tow trucks were hauled in. As one drew close to a parked cab, Jean-Charles did a Superman dive over the concrete, putting his body between the taxi and the tow.

The face-plant public protest earned Jean-Charles a night in jail, not to mention murky future prospects behind the wheel of a Yellow Cab. But the arrest also spotlighted the gripes Broward's cabdrivers are currently chewing over.

"We have so many issues with Yellow Cab," Jean-Charles told New Times recently after answering a knock on his Oakland Park door. "I decided to kill myself just for the drivers so something could be done."

That soundbite might fit better carved into a tombstone, but Jean-Charles is serious. A squat Haitian native who's been driving since 2008, he's been living in the States since 1986 and also has16 years with the U.S. Army, including time in Iraq. So tow trucks don't exactly faze him, he explained. Sitting in his living room, with one of his young daughters crawling over his shoulder and midday cartoons flashing across the TV, Jean-Charles explained why he was willing to eat an arrest for labor relations.

There are two main issues. One, Yellow Cab recently installed DriveCam equipment in the vehicles in February. The gear monitors a driver's performance and videos behavior behind the wheel. Jean-Charles says the drivers don't appreciate the on-board babysitter. "We don't have a problem with the company putting a camera in the car, but the way they do it, it's not right. It's not to protect the drivers."

The second issue involves a rate increase in what the county charges taxi drivers for pickups at the airport. Under the most recent contract, the county charges $3.50 a pickup. Yellow Cab pays $1.50, then takes $2 from the drivers to cover the rest of the charge. Jean-Charles says the extra money is hurting drivers, who often pay up to $500 a week to the company in order to drive.

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frankd4 topcommenter

i would like jean-charles to tell us how cabs were suddenly available within minutes of a midnight during the black friday towing fiasco in sunrise a few years back and why cab drivers would NOT allow riders to "share" a $90 fixed fee ride to the towing lot

frankd4 topcommenter

in reality yellow cab benefits from a disfunctional and useless public bus transportation system, BROWARD COUNTY TRANSIT, which is completely unable to offer an alternative from the airport, and to the extent yellow cab has any hand in that result, with obvious necessary participation from the county leadership themselves, would be the real story here

in the old dayz it worked to take full advantage of our visitors, who were here to spend money anyway, so broward county also had its hand out, but today the amounts are just too large and all the sharks want to be fed, unfortunately any of us who live here year-round get the same treatment

it seems here the cab drivers and operator and the county all want MORE than is on the table

frankd4 topcommenter

in reality the cameras are on board to MONITOR off-meter fares, whereby the driver takes passengers for a fixed fee, which they pocket without record, cash only, of course

in reality the county fee is extortion which is why the monopolistic practice of the cab company to continue to pay this vig is entirely a game to screw the tourists, and is why no one wants to debate it in public, as, according to the players, it doesn't concern the public..........only those directly involved

once the disinfectant of sunshine is applied here we will see exposed what this driver, and most other drivers, are really pointing us, the public, to become aware of

 the GOLDEN GOOSE is on the chopping block


Better yet, throw the Gaddis's and about 30 of the drivers in to a small locked room and let them negotiate...


tie their income rate to their ability to speak English...

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