"Mathew, as a member of the Organizing Committee of the New York Taxi Workers Alliance, has a unique perspective on the plight of immigrant taxi drivers. . . . Mathew explores the history of New York's taxicab industry, which has been in a cycle of corruption and reform since the Depression. The book culminates in an essay on globalization, immigration, racism, and the false veneer of multiculturalism in neoliberal society."—Booklist"Mathew describes the grim economics of driving the ubiquitous yellow cabs—a job where most of the money goes to the cab company owners and where even minor problems, such as a few tickets or a short illness, can spell disaster for drivers."—Financial Times"Jump aboard this fast-paced ride through the ins and outs of the taxi industry in New York City and sit up front with the 40,000 cabbies who are overworked, underpaid, and routinely harassed, but have come together to improve their lot. . . . Fasten your seatbelt, grip the dashboard, and enjoy the trip."—Morning Star (U.K.)"Drivers' narratives in Taxi! can be riveting, inspiring, and upsetting all at the same time. . . . Their tales penetrate deep into the exploitive nature of the taxi industry. . . . In describing precisely how a group of seemingly powerless immigrant workers flexed their muscles, Taxi! critiques the labor movement and the broader movement for social justice."—Left TurnDriving a cab has long attracted recent immigrants and others at the margins of the economy. In recent years, however, the working conditions and the nature of cab ownership have changed. As Biju Mathew reveals in this lively account of the benefits and hardships in the lives of today's taxi drivers, just about everything has changed dramatically except the yellow paint. At once a passionate declaration of worker solidarity and an ethnography of work, Taxi! is a compelling narrative of the lives of immigrant taxi drivers in New York City. This updated edition covers the formation of the International Taxi Workers Alliance, the unusual collaboration with the Central Labor Council, and 2007 taxi strikes protesting New York City's plan requiring taxicabs to install costly global positioning systems and credit-card machines.
A cheering story of labor organizing in difficult times
By J. Mage - May 15, 2005
"Taxi!" tells the story of the organization in the last ten years of a successful labor union - though never recognized officially as such - by NYC cab drivers. There had been an official AFL-CIO union but its leadership had (in the 70s) sold out the drivers coming into the industry in return for pennies for oldtimers, and a dues check-off. The union gave in to the corrupt local Democratic politicians who helped taxi "brokers" legalize a "leasing" system in which drivers make a daily cash "lease" payment before they can start work.
Under the daily "lease" system drivers as they set out each day have to make over $100 before they earn anything for themselves. In bad weather and traffic they can work 12 hour days for nothing. But supposedly they are "independent contractors" and so labor laws don't apply. By the 90s almost all the drivers were working under this kind of peonage. Subject to ever increasing levels of harassment by Giuliani's police, the many drivers with... read more
A Mixed Bag
By Douglas Aldridge - November 2, 2006
In the end, this book wasn't what I hoped it would be, but was still worth the read. As a cabbie in Boston, I picked this up hoping to get a feel for the cab business in NY. And as a history buff, I was particularly interested in the promise of a good back-story. Unfortunately, there's very little history here. Despite the book's extensive footnotes section, most of the "history" comes from the memories of a few old-time drivers, and is generally concerned with settling grudges and exposing exploitation. In addition, this book reads like a doctoral thesis in hardcover. "White middle class suburbanites" get almost as much page time as the immigrant drivers. And there's barely a word about the interesting job these drivers have, instead the focus is on their place as it relates to globalization, exploitation of Third World labor, and "neoliberal economic practices." Not exactly what I thought I was getting into.
That being said, even though I'm in Boston and not New... read more
Hoping for an ethnography, got a labor manifesto
By T. Godfrey - December 13, 2010
Clearly a book that does not withstand the test of time. Full of horribly dated academic anti-globalization blather and not even a particularly good snapshot of the NYC taxi industry at the time.
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