Taxi drivers joined protesters in demonstrations on the Manhattan and Brooklyn bridges in New York City on March 5, which included a “coalition of workers demanding pandemic relief.” The New York Taxi Workers Alliance (NYTWA) said the demonstration – which included hundreds of New Yorkers – was in support of workers who have been excluded from unemployment benefits and stimulus payments during the pandemic. The NYTWA announced that NYC’s cab drivers “stand in solidarity” with other workers struggling through the pandemic.
The huge crowd of “excluded workers” from across New York took to the streets in Brooklyn before marching, and driving, across the bridges, shutting down traffic on the inter-borough connectors with chants and drumlines. The demonstration was the latest from a coalition of more than 100 organizations calling on the state to #FundExcludedWorkers, or those excluded from pandemic relief because of their status as formerly incarcerated, self-employed or undocumented.
Only 5% of households in immigrant, black and brown communities received unemployment insurance despite 9 in 10 of those surveyed losing their job or income, according to a study by the organization, Make the Road New York. The workers include taxi drivers, salon and restaurant staff, street vendors, and countless others who have been on the frontlines during the crisis. More than half of NYC’s essential workers are immigrants, according to the coalition.
The coalition has proposed creating a “billionaire wealth tax” to help pay for flat rate monthly payments to the excluded families and funds to retroactively pay those who have not been given relief since the start of the crisis. More than 60 state legislators have signed onto the idea.