New York City, NY – About two dozen yellow cab drivers began a caravan from Lower Manhattan to Washington, D.C. Thursday to demand legislators provide aide and another stimulus for drivers impacted by the coronavirus pandemic.
Hundreds of cabbies from New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Maryland were expected to join the group along the way. The motorcade left the city through the Holland Tunnel and planned to take I-95 to the nation’s capital.
Most cab drivers have been receiving $182 a week from the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program, according to the New York Taxi Workers Alliance. But the benefit is set to expire soon.
The union representing taxi drivers says its demanding the federal government extend unemployment compensation, provide stimulus checks, offer rent and mortgage assistance along with a moratorium on evictions and foreclosures. The NYTWA says their members are also demanding medallion debt forgiveness and tax exemption on forgiven debt.
“Millions of workers are hurting and hungry and can’t afford to wait one more day for Congress to take action,” said Executive Director Bhairavi Desai. “Drivers are among the hardest hit Americans and like most of the country, are sick, tired and terrified of getting such little help to survive and are now under threat of even losing that much.”
The caravan is expected to return to New York where they will hold a rally outside Gracie Mansion.
Mayor Bill de Blasio has said that the city does not have the financial wherewithal to bail out the city’s taxi drivers and that the federal government should step in to help.
“This is not a time for talk. It’s a time for direct action. So many lives depend on it. Drivers need the stimulus to survive today, and our owner-driver members need debt forgiveness to face tomorrow,” said Desai.