Queens Assembly members Zohran K. Mamdani, Jessica Gonzales-Rojas, Ron Kim and Democratic city council candidates Felicia Singh, Shahana Hanif and Shekar Krishnan joined New York taxi drivers in their camp outside the City Hall to demand that Mayor de Blasio implement the New York Taxi Workers’ Alliance (NYTWA) Medallion Debt Cancellation Plan. The protest will continue outside City Hall until the mayor takes significant action to ease the financial burden that locket owners face. The medallion debt crisis has affected thousands of working class New Yorkers, over 90% of whom are immigrants, the majority South Asians, and has resulted in suicides among a number of taxi drivers. Almost all of the city’s South Asian elected officials attended the protest last week to support the drivers.
While the number of taxi medallions has been regulated by the city for years, ridesharing companies like Uber and Lyft have been able to operate with few restrictions since their introduction. Market saturation by Uber and Lyft has dramatically reduced the number of medallions and drove ticket prices down exponentially in recent years. What’s more, the inflation of medallion prices under the Bloomberg administration has left thousands of working-class New Yorkers with hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt. Assembly member Mamdani and NYTWA are calling for a total restructuring of the taxi medallion debt to provide taxi drivers with a viable route for repayment. NYTWA’s proposal would restructure all existing debt to $ 125,000, amortized over up to 20 years, with a monthly mortgage of $ 750 per month (maximum interest of 4%). The proposal would cost the city no more than $ 75 million over the next 20 years and save thousands of mostly working-class South Asian New Yorkers from financial ruin.
“The City told drivers that buying a medallion was a ticket for the middle class. He told them that if they worked long hours, drove New Yorkers to every corner of this city, they too could live the American dream they immigrated to this country for. The drivers did whatever they were asked to do, but instead of stability they ended up with artificially inflated medallion prices, 40% of their income wiped out by the unregulated influx of Lyft and Uber, and the hundreds of thousands of dollars that flowed from it. debt. The City has played a role in all aspects of this crisis and now must resolve it with a debt relief plan that takes into account the true scale of this tragedy. Mayor de Blasio and TLC’s current plan fall far short of it – it leaves drivers in debt who are unaffordable and unmanageable. The city must embrace NYTWA’s relief plan and secure the restructuring of driver debt loans – getting banks and lenders to team up to create a solution that gives drivers back their dignity, ”the member said. Mamdani Assembly.
“The taxi medallion crisis – which has devastated our immigrant communities – is entirely the fault of New York City and the predatory lending practices it fostered. It’s time for City Hall and TLC to face this reality, adopt the NYTWA back-up plan, and bail out our drivers. Whether it is with this city council or the next, we will continue to fight alongside the taxi workers – some of our most essential workers – until they get the relief they have long deserved, ”he said. Democratic city council candidate Shekar Krishnan said.
“My father has been driving a taxi for over 30 years. He struggled to keep his locket and had to file for bankruptcy in 2019. In the midst of the pandemic, his locket was seized and he was out of work for about three months. Then on February 5, 2021, the United States Bankruptcy Court placed a sign for sale on our house and threatened to evict us in 90 days. The medallion crisis is the root cause of generational debt, the housing crisis, and poor health and well-being. It is an intersectional issue that affects an entire family. A plan, without loan collateral, will ruin us even more. The mayor must add a guarantee to his plan to prevent this from happening to another family, ”said Felicia Singh, candidate for the Democratic city council.
“The city’s belated, listless, insignificant and lethargic response to the taxi medallion crisis shows how working-class immigrants are being treated to contribute to our city’s livelihoods and economic security. We can’t wait any longer – I implore the mayor to urgently stand up with every family for a debt relief plan that doesn’t punish more and drown workers in more debt. This can be done. The mayor’s plan is deeply flawed – he must listen to the immigrant workers who serve our city every day. Thank you to NYTWA and all the workers for their relentless organization. But we shouldn’t have to organize for our basic rights and labor protections. The city should support us, ”said Shahana Hanif, candidate for the Democratic city council.