by Kate Childs Graham | March 13, 2013
Dolores Montgomery has been a taxi cab driver in New Orleans for 17 years. She knows the city inside and out. She gets people – tourists and residents alike – to the places they need to go safely and efficiently. And she does it all with a warm smile on her face.
Montgomery says she’s never had a bad experience with the people she serves. However, the drivers are currently losing their independence and their voice on the job, and “We have to stop it,” she said.
Cab drivers in New Orleans are currently considered independent contractors. They have no right to collective bargaining. The City of New Orleans controls every aspect of their work. Yet, the workers themselves have no voice to challenge their working conditions.
To engage the community they serve in their struggle, drivers are partnering with AFSCME Council 17 and meeting with progressive organizations across the city to drive home their message: All workers in New Orleans deserve a voice.
When taxi drivers have a voice, the community will prosper.
“We provide a quality and necessary service to the people of New Orleans and to the whole tourism industry,” Montgomery said.
New Orleans' tourism industry brings in $5.5 billion per year, accounting for 40 percent of New Orleans’ tax revenues. From the pick-up area at Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport to the shuttling of tourists between the French Quarter and Bourbon Street, the tourism industry relies heavily on quality cab services.
Right now, with the help of AFSCME Council 17, drivers are working to remind Mayor Mitch Landrieu and the City Council of how a safe, stable tax system in New Orleans benefits everyone.
“In the taxi cab industry, you meet so many people from around the country and around the world,” Montgomery said. “You get to talk to these people and get to know where they come from. I’ve had everybody in my cab from the hustlers to the CEOs. I treat everyone the same.”
Now, it’s time for Montgomery and her fellow New Orleans cab drivers to get fair treatment on the job.