Newark cabbies cry 'corruption', rally against city's Uber deal

By Dan Ivers and Paul Milo | NJ Advance Media for NJ.com
on April 20, 2016

 More than 100 cab drivers were blocked from entering City Hall after protesting the city's deal with rival Uber.

 

NEWARK — A phalanx of taxi cabs gathered on Broad Street early Wednesday night to protest a deal that would allow car service Uber to continue operating in the city, a deal intended to end months of sparring between the city and the company.

The drivers later gathered at the public entrance of city hall to attend Wednesday night's meeting of the council, when the proposal was to be discussed by officials. But the several dozen drivers, as well as media, were barred from entering, although Council President Mildred Crump came out to address the drivers.

Mayor Ras Baraka was seen driving off to jeers of "corruption" from the crowd.

Cab drivers are upset over a tentative deal between the city and Baraka's administration announced Friday, which would allow Uber to continue operating in the city and its airport in exchange for a $10 million fee over 10 years. The company would also be required to provide liability coverage of up to $1.5 million for its drivers and would stipulate background checks for its drivers.

The deal marked a turn away from a proposed ordinance that would have forced Uber drivers to pay annual licensing fees of $1,500 to operate in the city and at its airport - which sparked a public war of words between Baraka and Uber.

On Wednesday, the City Council honored a request to return that legislation to the administration, which said it was engaged in separate negotiations with the Newark Cab Association and the Communication Workers of America, which represents local taxi drivers, to improve conditions for cabbies.

"We are in negotiations, of course, with trying to get a contract with Uber," said Corporation Counsel Willie Parker.

"At the very same time we want to try to continue negotiations with (taxi groups) so that we can create a more business-friendly environment for them, and so we can create a more competitive environment with what they believe are Uber's advantages."

The council's move sparked no reaction from the dozens of cab drivers gathered inside the meeting, but many of those who protested outside said they felt betrayed by Baraka and others who had vowed to protect their interests.

"He changed his word," said Tarik Ibrahim, who has been driving a taxi in the city for the last 35 years.

"We don't have enough business....most of these people struggling to make a living and now the mayor gives us a hard time to add Uber in the city of Newark, which is not right."

Do you like this post?

Be the first to comment