Sudbury cab drivers need to unionize, advocate says
Former cabby worries taxi drivers are working numerous unpaid hours
Posted: May 30, 2012 2:43 PM ET
Last Updated: May 30, 2012 2:34 PM ET
A man who drove a taxi for 11 years in Sudbury is taking a stand against what he calls poor working conditions in the industry — and he's trying to unionize taxi employees in the city.
John Dickson said there were times he was only making $270 a week as a cab driver. Most drivers work on commission. If work is slow there is less pay.
Dickson was recently awarded $1,000 dollars in unpaid hours through a Ministry of Labour ruling. He worries there are others who are working unpaid hours.
"A lot of drivers, they have families to take care of and a lot of bills to pay, like pretty much everybody does,” Dickson said. “But it’s just the hours a lot of these people are going through … I know one person [who’s] doing over 70 hours a week."
Dickson has been handing out information pamphlets to drivers in the city.
The local companies he is targeting refused to comment for this story.
But one owner did say that, in bigger centres like Toronto, workers have unionized.
Jim Bell, the president of Diamond Taxi on Queen Street in Toronto said a union at his company lasted seven years. But drivers eventually opted out because they weren't seeing any increase in wages and had to pay union dues.
Bell said he believes if conditions were as bad as some drivers claim, they would not continue to drive taxi.
"I always look at it with a bit of a jaded eye,” Bell said. “Go work someplace else. Even at minimum wage, you'd still come out further ahead."
Meanwhile in Sudbury, Dickson said he will continue to try get enough drivers to sign on to have a vote.
“The hours you put in … it’s exhausting,” he said. “And they always try to get you to stay longer or they try to get you to come in when they're short on drivers. But the thing is — who wants to work for less than minimum wage?"
Dickson said as soon as more than half a company's employees to choose to unionize, they can hold a vote.
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