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Guide to the New York Taxi Workers Alliance Records WAG.319

Tamiment Library and Robert F. Wagner Labor Archive
Elmer Holmes Bobst Library
70 Washington Square South
10th Floor
New York, NY 10012
(212) 998-2630
tamiment.wagner@nyu.edu


Tamiment Library and Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives

Collection processed by Margaret Fraser in 2013

This finding aid was produced using ArchivesSpace on August 03, 2018
English using Describing Archives: A Content Standard

Scope and Content Note

The records of the New York Taxi Workers' Alliance document the organization from its growth out of the Lease Driver Coalition (an initiative of the Committee Against Anti-Asian Violence) in 1998 to its 2012 status as a national union and a member of the AFL-CIO in 2010. The records illusrtate the growth of the union in membership, funding, and media coverage, and the specific challenges of 21st century labor organizing in a transient and ethnically diverse population. The collection primarily documents the two major activities of the union: campaigns and legal services.

Without collective bargaining, campaigns are the major way the NYTWA affects change in the industry. Since its founding in 1998, the NYTWA has initiated numerous campaigns working toward increasing the wage of drivers, advocating for driver health and safety, fighting against TLC rules and regulations, and increasing public awareness of industry issues. The NYTWA provides discounted or pro-bono legal assistance to aid drivers in understanding and navigating the constantly changing traffic regulations and complicated TLC court system, in addition to the multiple city agencies they contend with on a daily basis, The Taxi and Limousine Commission (TLC), the New York City Police Department (NYPD), and the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV).

Materials that document these campaigns include New York City Council outreach, flyers and distribution materials for drivers and the general public, proposed bills and legislation, internal workplans, industry research and clippings, and driver surveys. The records document their interactions with the media, drivers, the NYTWA Organizing Committee, and partnerships with related organizations.

Through these records, researchers can find information about evolving transportation technologies, the impact of September 11, 2001 on South Asian workers and the transportation industry, taxi drivers in the media, the rising cost of medallions, the effects of the legal system on the immigrant population of New York, changing traffic laws and restrictions, industry-specific health concerns, and efforts to educate the public about the industry.

Also represented in this collection are the many organizations that operate within the taxi industry. The NYTWA is the only group that advocates for and consists of taxi drivers themselves. There are several realted organizations that fight for taxi garages and medallion owners, including The Metropolitan Taxi Cab Board of Trade (MTBOT), Committee for Taxi Safety, and Greater New York Taxi Association. Over time, the NYTWA's working relationships with related organizations evolved. In particular, the NYTWA works more closely with the Taxi and Limousine Commission (TLC) under the leadership of Commissioner Yassky (2010-2017), in comparison with Commissioner Daus (2001-2010). The NYTWA also initiated partnerships with other organizations to aid in campaign work and research projects, including the Brennan Center for Justice, the National Immigration Law Center, and the Urban Justice Center.

Due to the small size of the NYTWA office staff and its use of email and phone communication, the collection contains little documentation of internal office interactions. This is also apparent in the lack of internal structure visible in the records themselves. Operating with only a few full time employees, the small staff performed all tasks in the organization – answering phones, doing research and outreach, writing articles, and attending meetings. Evidence of the fast paced office and makeshift orgnaizational strategies can be seen in the way that documents were used and reused. Most pieces of paper have been used for multiple purposes and passed through many hands – an unused flyer about one campaign became paper for taking notes about another. The documents reflect the nature of working in a reactive environment with less time for planning and internal organization. Instead, staff and volunteers for the NYTWA focused on how to affect the most change in a rapidly evolving industry.

Arrangement

This collection has been arranged into three series:

Series I: Campaigns, 1994-2010
Series II: Legal, 1998-2010
Series III: Administrative, 1974-2011