Cab Drivers to Vote on Union; Company Refuses to Bargain

Jakob Schiller
Friday July 16, 2004

After winning the right to be classified as employees rather than independent contractors, local cab drivers will soon vote whether or not to join the Teamsters Union Local 70. 

The drivers—who operate under five different cab names, all based under Oakland’s Friendly cab company—won what many called a landmark ruling a month ago when the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) national board upheld the local NLRB’s ruling that the East Bay cab drivers should be classified as employees. The win, according to the cab drivers’ lawyers, sets a precedent for other drivers across the country who have struggled with the same fight. 

Under the ruling, drivers can now legally organize a union as employees, something they could not do as independent contractors.  

The vote to affiliate or merge with the Teamsters should help the employees gain the experience and resources of the local, said Bob Bezemek, one of two lawyers working with the cab drivers. Berkeley City Councilmember Kriss Worthington is scheduled to act as a neutral third party to oversee and verify the vote. 

Affiliation with Local 70, which represents East Bay transportation workers, could also help the cab drivers during the bargaining process. Even though the cab drivers won employee classification, the owner of Friendly cab company has refused to bargain. According to Bezemek, the company is also refusing to accept the ruling of the national NLRB. Drivers expect the NLRB to overturn the cab company’s challenge, which will land the case in a federal court of appeals. None of this, however, prevents the drivers from affiliating with the Teamsters. 


—Jakob Schiller