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Cab Drivers Spar Over New ‘Taxi Tax’ To Help With Health Insurance Sign-Up

Some Blame Taxi Fleet Operators For Opposition To New Fee
New York City Taxis (file / credit: Chris Hondros/Getty Images)

New York City Taxis (file/credit: Chris Hondros/Getty Images)

CBS New York (con't)

Affordable Care Act Updates: CBSNewYork.com/ACA

Health News & Information: CBSNewYork.com/Health

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – A group of New York City taxi cab drivers are speaking out against a new fee.

As WCBS 880’s Alex Silverman reported, the cabbies delivered petitions to the Taxi and Limousine Commission headquarters in protest of the taxi tax.

But the drivers may not be the ones behind the effort, Silverman reported.

About a dozen taxi drivers said they’re not pleased with the six cents they now have to pay on every fare for, among other things, help navigating the new health care law.

“We don’t need anybody to help us, guide us through what type of health care I need. I’m not an illiterate,” driver Dean Aladamu told Silverman.

Two groups of cabbies got into a shouting match, Silverman reported.

Victor Salazar, who’s been driving a cab for 22 years, confronted some of those delivering petitions. He claims the taxi fleet operators are behind the opposition.

“Garages are asking drivers to sign petitions. If they don’t sign petitions, they won’t give them the car,” said Salazar. “It’s one of the best deals to ever happen in New York City for taxi drivers.”

Bhairavi Desai heads the Taxi Workers Alliance, a drivers union, which got the contract to handle the money that’s collected.

“It’s a bunch of bosses telling drivers that they don’t have a right to benefits on the job,” Desai told Silverman. “Wealthy companies have been basically intimidating drivers to sign these petitions.”

Desai said the union fought for the surcharge, which also helps pay for disability coverage and other benefits drivers haven’t had in the past.

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