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REPORT: Monthly meeting with Department of Consumer Services

By admin - Posted on 15 August 2008

The United Taxidrivers Community Council is happy to report on our latest meeting with Deputy Commissioner Shelley Riedle, of the Dept. of Consumer Services. We have been holding monthly meetings for the last four or five months. The UTCC sifts through the many issues that cabdrivers bring to our attention, and we try to pick the three or four topics for discussion very carefully.

Our criteria for bringing a topic to the table for discussion has to do with: one, a specific issue whose resolution could positively affect a significant number of drivers in a positve way; two, an issue that we feel the DCS could easily work with us to resolve; and/or three, clarification of DCS rules that would assist the UTCC in helping the drivers negotiate or challenge any violations of them they may encounter.

In our latest meeting on August 18, we discussed the following topics. The first was a complaint filed by one of our members against the Belmont/Western garage of American United Taxi Affiliation. This had to do with their ads, which stated “Pay for five days, get two days free”. According to the DCS, this constituted false advertising.

The complaint filed was specifically to do with the policy at this garage of not following the DCS rules pertaining to either providing a replacement vehicle or a reimbursement for time lost on a weekly lease due to vehicle breakdown, regularly scheduled maintenance, or safety inspections. Their policy had been to claim that any lost time was “that’s your free day”.

We are happy to report that the advertising has been changed, which means that the garage cannot claim this anymore, and will have to comply with the rules. We in the UTCC would be happy to hear from any American United drivers at the Belmont/Western garage who are not being given replacement vehicles or being reimbursed for any lost time. The DCS has assured us that any complaints filed will be investigated.

We also expressed concern that we had not been able to meet with Norma Reyes as of yet. When we meet with the Aldermen on the Transportation Committee they have all told us we need to meet with the Commissioner. Sadly, we have not been able to tell them she will meet with us yet.

Deputy Commissioner Riedle informed us that the Commissioner had a very busy schedule and could not make the meeting times we had set. We told her that as cabdrivers have flexible schedules, we would be willing to meet with Ms. Reyes at any time she found most convenient, even if it were to be 6 AM in the morning or 10 pm at night. Ms. Riedle said she would convey this message to the Commissioner.

We raised the issue of the Driver Safety Placards again, stressing that we were not happy that we had to take on the burden of manufacturing and issuing them ourselves. We would prefer that the City officially issue them, as separate from the rate sheet for emphasis. We also pointed out that there is a State Law that states that municipalities must post such notices in public conveyance vehicles. Ms. Riedle stated that she hadn’t realized the importance of this issue to drivers before, and that she would take personal responsibility to follow up on this issue again.

The UTCC had proposed two inserts to be added to the curriculum for Public Chauffeur classes at Harold Washington College. One of them was concerning the new law making it a felony to commit battery on a cabdriver. We were informed that this insert had already been added. The second concerned a sample standard lease, with explanations of all charges and additions, for drivers to be able to compare when they are shopping for a cab to lease. The DCS proposed that we do this work ourselves, and then bring it to them for study and collaboration. We agreed that we would do this.

One last issue that many drivers have been bringing to us is the issue of limo drivers and what rules they are bound to follow. Ms. Riedle assured us that the DCS has been randomly investigating complaints concerning limo drivers at the hotels, and that limos are only allowed to pick up pre-arranged rides in the City of Chicago. We proposed that we work on some kind of system for drivers to be able to collect evidence and complain if they notice specific instances of abuse. Ms. Riedle said she would get back to us about what drivers could do to assist the City in collecting evidence of these abuses of DCS rules and regulations.

All in all, we felt we finally had a productive meeting, and look forward to more meetings to nurture a collaborative relationship of mutual respect and working together to address the many issues facing cabdrivers here in Chicago.