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Taxi strike begins, with little effect to service
Julia Parrish, CTV Edmonton
Published Monday, August 13, 2012 11:07AM MDT
Last Updated Monday, August 13, 2012 7:12PM MDT
About two dozen unionized taxi drivers parked their cabs, and started up picket lines Monday morning – over expenses imposed by their employer, including a several-thousand dollar collision fine.
Teamsters Local 987, the union that represents drivers for Yellow Cab, Barrel Taxi, Checker and Prestige Cabs served notice over the weekend – meaning nearly 800 drivers could eventually go on strike.
However, on Monday morning, most taxi drivers remained on city streets.
Union officials said the number of drivers on the picket lines will grow in the coming days.
Edmonton Taxi Service Group president Phil Strong said he was not surprised to see “not much support” for the strike.
The main concern for the striking drivers is a maximum $6,200 fine they’re charged if they are involved in a collision, and found to be at-fault.
“Most of our drivers own their own vehicles, and part of their weekly stand rent includes the insurance premium for the fleet insurance, but on top of that this employer has chosen to add an accident penalty,” David Froelich with the Teamsters Local 987 said over the weekend.
The union has asked for the insurance surcharge to be removed, or significantly reduced, along with other expenses.
"It's a user-pay system," President Phil Strong said. "You only have it if you have an at-fault accident.
"If you have a bunch of years that you don't have an accident then it's decreased."
Strong told CTV News since the company brought in the fee, the number of at-fault collisions has dropped considerably.
“Our accidents have decreased by 60 percent,” Strong said. “[That’s] unheard of in the industry.
“It has resulted in everyone waking up.”
The president said company officials are willing to negotiate, and looks forward to meeting the union at the table again.
On Monday, about 340 cabs were on city streets – a normal amount for the day and the time.
However, the union said more drivers could strike, if there’s no sign of a deal with the employer.
The union has planned to picket hotel stands and major malls in the coming days, and a rally has been planned for noon Tuesday at City Hall.
With files from Bill Fortier