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More Independent Contractors Are Organizing. Meet Teamster Taxi Cabs

Taxis lined up by Union Station in Washington, DC.
Taxis lined up by Union Station in Washington, DC.Photograph by Bill O'Leary/The Washington Post via Getty Images

Washington D.C.’s taxi drivers are getting a union, kind of. Capitol city cabbies who belong to Washington D.C. Taxi Operators Association this week affiliated the group with Teamsters Local 922. Under the arrangement, the drivers’ new association will transfer $23 per driver in monthly dues to the Teamsters, which will help it negotiate with city regulators. More than 1,000 of the city’s 8,000 licensed hacks reportedly have joined the association, which uses the tagline “Teamster Taxi Cabs” at the top of its website.

The drivers, who own their cars, or lease them as independent contractors, are aligning themselves with the 1.4 million-member Teamsters at a time when independent contractors across industries are in the middle of regulatory maelstroms. As Jim Efstathiou Jr. reported earlier this month, states from California to New York are cracking down on companies that mislabel employees as contractors in a bid to save on payroll taxes and worker benefits. Employers often see it differently, arguing that contractor arrangements appeal to workers who prefer to set their own hours. While federal and state officials spar with businesses, it makes sense that independent workers would seek greater influence.