Driver Power!

photo from http://philadelphia.cbslocal.com/2013/05/10/philadelphia-cab-drivers-demand-in-cab-cameras-to-deter-assaults/ credit: Mike DeNardo
photo from http://philadelphia.cbslocal.com/2013/05/10/philadelphia-cab-drivers-demand-in-cab-cameras-to-deter-assaults/
credit: Mike DeNardo

This morning as I was reading my twitter feed, I stumbled across an article from the Philadelphia Inquirer about a rally that was held by around 300 of the city’s cab drivers on Friday, May 10. [1]  Earlier this week, a cab driver was robbed and killed, in West Philadelphia, while on duty.  As a response to this traumatic event, Philadelphia cab drivers held a protest demanding increased safety measures, such as video surveillance cameras, within the city’s taxi cabs.  In addition, the disgruntled cab drivers were also calling on state lawmakers “to create a fund that would help drivers who are injured on the job and the families of slain drivers.” [2]  In reading this article, I learned that a lot of the struggles of these cab drivers align with the major themes that we addressed in our class discussion about Barbara Ehrenreich’s Nickel and Dimed.

Similarly to the people that we read about in Nickel and Dimed, many of the cab drivers who participated in the rally do not have health coverage or worker’s compensation, and so there is very little money to be offered to families of injured or murdered cab drivers.  To make matters worse, the country’s dangerous or undesirable professions, like domestic service and taxi cab driving, are disproportionately held by our immigrant population.  The subpar working conditions that American immigrants face also reminds me of our assigned reading from a few weeks ago by Ha Jin and Edwidge Danticat.  In these different weeks’ readings, we are able to see the abuse that low wage workers face from their corporate employers.  Such workers do not have the financial benefits and protections that many other American workers possess; furthermore, their wages are so low that they are difficult to live off of, let alone use to provide a comfortable life for an entire family.  For this reason, it is good that cab drivers have been able to unite and create the Taxi Workers Alliance of Pennsylvania.

The Taxi Workers Alliance of Pennsylvania works to “promote the civil and human rights of low-income taxi workers, including improving their health, safety, and wellbeing.” [3]  Such an organization is necessary to ensure that cab drivers, who are oftentimes unfamiliar with American life, are not being taken advantage of by their employing corporations.  As we have discussed in class, the immense hardships of the working class poor are oftentimes overlooked by the general population.  People do not think about the major difficulties that this country’s working poor must face within their everyday jobs, such as issues of safety and improper pay.  For this reason, it would be interesting to create exhibits that could address these issues.  Throughout the year at CGP, all of my classes have discussed the need for museum professionals to address the needs of their organization’s community.  In this sense, I think that it would be beneficial for a Philadelphia museum to work with the Taxi Workers Alliance of Pennsylvania to raise awareness about the struggles of immigrant taxi drivers in the city.  Perhaps such exhibitions could further encourage lawmakers to acknowledge and address the demands that cab drivers made at the Philadelphia rally on Friday.

Works Cited:

[1] Clark, Vernon. “Cabbies call for increased safety.” The Philadelphia Inquirer, May 11, 2013. http://articles.philly.com/2013-05-11/news/39188326_1_ronald-blount-drivers-taxi-workers-alliance (accessed May 12, 3013).

[2] Clark, Vernon. “Cabbies call for increased safety.” The Philadelphia Inquirer, May 11, 2013. http://articles.philly.com/2013-05-11/news/39188326_1_ronald-blount-drivers-taxi-workers-alliance (accessed May 12, 3013).

[3] “Taxi Workers Alliance of Pennsylvania.” http://www.TWAPA.org. http://www.twapa.org/ (accessed May 12, 2013).

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