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UTCC calls for unification of cabdrivers’ movement


By Peter Enger - Posted on 15 July 2008

The United Taxidrivers Community Council called for a Unity Forum of Chicago cabdrivers on Sat. Aug. 9th. It was held at Baba Palace, at Orleans and Chicago Avenues in Chicago, where the idea for the UTCC itself was born back in January of this year, 2008.

The UTCC decided to call this Forum three weeks ago in order to try to bring together the many perceived ‘groups’ of cabdriver organizations that we had been hearing about, and some selected leaders in their communities that we had come into contact with in our organizing efforts.

We had heard from many sources in our cabdriver community that we should reach out and try to come to some kind of consensus and unity around some core issues concerning Chicago cabdrivers, so that we could all work together to achieve them. We thought it would be a good idea.

So we invited the following organizations and community leaders:

John Henry Assabill, President, Ghanaian Cabdrivers Association
George Lutfallah, publisher of the Dispatcher
Melissa Callahan, Association of Unified Professional Drivers
Mike Foulks, Chicago Cabdrivers Organization
Durran Liban, Chicago Cab Drivers Action Committee
Atmos Obazee, Chicago Cab Drivers Action Committee
Johnny Holmes, Taxi Brotherhood
Wolf Weiss, Chicago Professional Taxi Drivers Association
Yi Tang, Chicago Professional Taxi Drivers Association
Thadani Ajeet, Community Leader
Anil Sahay, Community Leader
Wali Budhul, Community Leader
Saieed Sarvinehbagh, Community Leader
Tracy Luedke, Professor, Northeastern Illinois University, Community Ally

We posted this invitation in prominent places for cabdrivers to see in order to illustrate our intentions to unify Chicago cabdrivers.

This was an open meeting for any drivers who may have been interested in the same goals, and we also invited many more drivers as we met them in our organizing.

The invitees who came to the Forum were: Thadani Ajeet, Anil Sahay, Yi Tang and Tracy Luedke, Donald Nathan, Pankaj Kapoor, and Gregory McGee. Also attending were members of the UTCC’s Steering Committee: Fayez Khozindar, Ron Florence, Peter Enger, Raja Khan, Diane Santucci, and Prateek Sampat of the American Friends Service Committee, a Solidarity Ally of the UTCC.

We cannot in all honesty call it an unqualified success, but we do feel we made some headway in reaching a consensus to join our efforts to unify Chicago cabdrivers in building an organization to fight for our human rights to safer working conditions, a living wage, and respect and dignity in our work environment.

We in the UTCC remain committed to extending an open invitation to any and all Chicago cabdriver organizations and leaders in their communities who may want to join us in the future in these endeavors.

OUR INVITATION:

YOU ARE RESPECTFULLY INVITED TO THE
UNITY FORUM

We all agree that that tasks ahead are challenging and we have no doubt that through unity they will be achieved. The UTCC represents a viable organization for cabdrivers based on the principles of inclusion, a democratic decision-making process, a working relationship with regulators, and a proven track record of success.

We have a policy of searching for solutions to systemic problems rather than individual solutions. We have an emphasis on fighting for our human rights, in addition to our workers rights- we are fighting to achieve justice, dignity and respect for all cabdrivers!

The United Taxidriver Community Council has identified community leaders and activists in the cabdriver’s struggle for justice, and is calling a Unity Forum to bring these diverse forces together. So come to the UNITY FORUM and take a seat- this is for everyone!