Here’s an invitation from Green L.A. Transportation Work Group’s Los Angeles Taxi Worker’s Alliance:

LATWA Fundraiser - Click on image for higher resolution pdf

Dear Friends,

I’m writing to ask that you support the L.A. Taxi Workers Alliance (LATWA) by purchasing tickets to LATWA’s upcoming fundraiser on Sunday, August 28, from 6 pm to 9 pm at St. Mary’s Ethiopian Orthodox Church.  As many of you know, I’ve been working with LATWA since its founding in 2005 and continue to be inspired by the courage and commitment of the taxi workers who lead LATWA’s heroic efforts to organize against taxi company greed and exploitation to achieve real justice for taxi workers. 

LATWA is a worker-led organization with a minimal budget and needs your support.  With a board composed exclusively of current and former drivers, LATWA is led by Sentayehu Silassie who drove a cab for 18 years until he was retaliated against for speaking out against taxi company abuses.  For the first time in decades – because of LATWA –  there is real hope amongst the 3,500 predominantly immigrant taxi workers in Los Angeles that the end will come for the current system of sweatshops on wheels.  Please help LATWA to continue its critical organizing that brings together taxi drivers of different races and backgrounds to fight in unity for justice! 

You can rsvp to me betty_hung [at] hotmail [dot] com or to Sentayehu Silassie at silassie [at] att [dot] net .  Thanks for your support!

– Betty Hung

See you at the event this Saturday night!

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Sentayehu Silassie is one of the leaders of the Los Angeles Taxi Workers Alliance and of the Green L.A. Transportation Work Group. Check out this video profiling him – as part of the Liberty Hill Foundation‘s 2010 Grassroots Leaders to Watch series.

UPDATED 1/11 – Meeting Location Changed

DRAFT AGENDA
Green L.A. Transportation Work Group monthly meeting
Tuesday, January 12, 2010 2-4pm
Coalition for Clean Air offices – 811 West 7th Street, Suite 1100, LA 90017 – Very easy access from 7th/Figueroa/Flower Red Line / Blue Line Metro Station 

1. Introductions:  10 minutes

2. Green LA Retreat – Steering Committee Follow-up/Discussion (Joe/Stephanie): 25 minutes

Discussion topic:  “What do you think as a GLATWG Win?”

3. Last meeting updates : 20 minutes

   – Living Streets Grant (Ryan L/Dorothy)
   – Parking In-Lieu Paper (Ryan L.)
   – Wilshire Bus Only Lanes (Sunyoung/Esperanza)
   – Metro/Carolyn Chiu leaving (Deborah)

4.  LA Bike Plan Update (Dorothy): 10 minutes
       background: Bike Plan FAQ

5. TAXI for 2010 strategy update (Betty/Sentayehu): 10-15 minutes

6. LA Marathon Temporary “Bus Street” update (Jerard): 5-10 minutes

7. Transform America’s T4Agenda (Stephanie): 5 minutes

8. Member Forum/General Announcements: 10 minutes
  Green L.A. – Green Jobs ; February 3rd 2010
  L.A. StreetSummit ; March 18th & 20th 2010

For February Meeting: Try to have something on CicLAvia

Taxi Drivers Rally!

Taxi Drivers Rally!

I got a chance to drop by the Taxi Workers Alliance rally this morning at Los Angeles City Hall. The Taxi Workers are a participant in the Green L.A. Transportation Working Group (GLATWG.) A healthy transportation system includes a broad range of traveller choices, and taxis are one important option. Urbanist Gordon Price, in a talk in Los Angeles last year, stated that a resilient transportation system includes the possibility of taking a car and paying “by the trip” – including taxis and car-sharing.

The first thing I saw as I bicycled in was a ring of taxis slowly circling the block where city hall is located:

Taxi Procession Down First Street

Taxi Procession Down First Street

Taxis had signs posted on them with slogans including “ALTO A LA FRANQUISIA DE ESCAVITUD” [stop the franchise slavery,] “WHY NO TRANSPARENCY?” and more. There were dozens of taxis stretching the entire circumference of the block. Taxi supporters were gathered on the south lawn, urging the drivers on. I pulled up and took my place in the supportive crowd. I caught up with city transportation commissioner and GLATWG advisor Malcolm Carson and Woodrow and Tammy from the Bus Riders Union (also a GLATWG participant – we nearly had a quorum – [note: we don’t actually do the quorum thing yet at GLATWG… we probably should?])

The drivers circled a while, then parked, and held a rally on the steps of city hall. Among their demands are that they city end the system of “sweatshops on wheels,” and that the city issue medallions (permits to operate a cab) only to actual active full-time drivers.

I confess to not being completely up to speed on all these issues… but it does seem pretty clear to me that our city regulations (including things like dress codes for drivers) hinder our taxi system from being effective and equitable. There’s a lot more L.A. taxi issue information available in this 2006 report entitled Sweatshops on Wheels.

Unfortunately I had to leave early to get to a lunch meeting… but I was glad to add my voice briefly in support of these workers and their campaign.

Taxi Workers Alliance at the City Hall Steps

Taxi Workers Alliance at the City Hall Steps