BWI taxi contract extended only 90 days, while drivers ask for living wage

Print More

By Megan Poinski
Megan@MarylandReporter.com

BWI sign

Photo by Adam Fagen

About 30 airport taxi drivers filled the seats at the Board of Public Works Wednesday to call attention to procurement problems at Baltimore-Washington Thurgood Marshall International Airport. The drivers inspired the board to unanimously cut the contract extension for the company they drive for, BWI Taxi Management Inc., from one year to 90 days.

The three-member board – Gov. Martin O’Malley, Comptroller Peter Franchot, and Treasurer Nancy Kopp – all said they were surprised to hear about the problems with the contract. The initial contract with BWI Taxi Management expired more than three years ago, and has been extended for a year by the Board of Public Works three times. Another one-year extension of the $2 million contract, which expires April 1, was on Wednesday’s Board of Public Works agenda.

BWI General Counsel Louisa Goldstein said that the airport has been working on getting the contract rebid for about two years, but it has been complicated. The airport’s federal funding require that the contract seek out disadvantaged business enterprises, and Goldstein said that BWI officials are taking the time to properly vet the bids.

Additionally, she said, whenever the taxi contract is awarded, it seems there are always legal challenges.

Goldstein said that the airport is close to selecting someone to get a new contract. She was asking for a year-long extension of the existing deal to ensure that there are still taxis serving the airport until all potential legal challenges are addressed. Under current law, only the taxi company that the state selects can pick up passengers up at the airport.

O’Malley said he saw no reason that the full procurement could not be finished in three months.

“People work against deadlines,” O’Malley said.

Kopp was surprised that it had taken so long to work on the procurement. Goldstein said she could not go into detail about the problems at the meeting, but reiterated the process is complicated. Franchot was taken aback by the situation.

“The agency you work for is usually very tight, and this is loose,” Franchot said.

The taxi drivers in the Governor’s Reception Room – all from the evening shift – were not directly there to protest the delays in awarding a contract.

Instead, they appeared with lawyer John Singleton to let the board know about what they felt was unfair treatment by BWI Taxi Management. They said the company treats individual drivers as independent contractors, not as employees. This means that they are paid poorly, sometimes working 80-hour weeks for less than $200 in take-home pay, said Samson Yemene, president of the Cab Operators Association of BWI Airport. Singleton argued that the contract would be fairer if it were bid differently, with drivers treated as employees.

“We are here to say we need support to do our job in a better way, the American way, not a no-man’s-land way,” Yemene said.

Members of the Cab Operators Association have bid for the contract, Yemene said, but their bid has been rejected. Singleton said that they will continue to fight to ensure they are adequately paid.

Board members were also surprised to hear the drivers’ concerns.

“It could be that we just have to reject it altogether,” O’Malley said. “There’s something about these inequities.”

  • Diriehv

    i feel for the cab drivers who unfairly treated with the third world mentality. The current contract holder is charging $172.00 weekly dues each driver regardless wether he/she make money or not. Not taking to the account illness death of fiends and family equipment failure accident or any circumstances that prevent the drivers to show up for work. Including not to have personal vacation because other overhead expenses such as gad,repair and insurance. Inhumane treatment against driver was kept secret from the state officials for last 13 years. Mr. Saed, who is contract holder, had long relationship with airport officials (kick back). It is about time he get exposed to general public and no more Iranian business style to conduct privately . I personally applause to our governor O’Malley his judgment and courage to show what is America is all about. One word of advice for Mr. Sead, who easily forgot the reason he skipped from Iran, can fool some people sometime but you can not fool all the people all time. I think it is the time to element the middle man with useless and dysfunctional role only created to profit illegally from drivers. His service to the airport taxi can forgo without it.

    Mike

    • Hyacinthnwachukwu4life

      Diriehv, you are absolutely correct. Mr. Saed does not care about the welfare of the drivers and their families. Unfortunately, he does not know that these poor drivers he has been exploiting have families to protect. He has no atom of respect for the drivers that pay his salary and he treats them like SLAVES! THIS SHYLOCK HAS BEEN SENDING DRIVERS HOME FOR NOT PUTTING ON DOME LIGHT ON THEIR VEHICLES AT THE HOLDING LOT, EVEN THOUGH THEY HAD IT IN THEIR VEHICLES. The BWI SUPER SHUTTLE’s GROUND TRANSPORTATION CONTRACT WITH THE MAA IS NO DIFFERENT FROM THAT OF THE BWI TAXI MANAGEMENT, BUT THE SUPER SHUTTLE ALLOWS THEIR DRIVERS TO TAKE, AT LEAST, 2 TO 4 WEEKS VACATION, IN A YEAR, WITHOUT PAYMENT OF STAND FEE, AND RESPECTS THE DIGNITY OF THEIR DRIVERS; BUT MR. SAED DOES NOT GIVE A DAMN ABOUT HIS DRIVERS! HE WANTS EVERYTHING FOR HIMSELF. THIS IS THE TIME TO TELL HIM ‘ENOUGH IS ENOUGH’. THE DRIVERS CAN NO LONGER AFFORD TO LET HIM CONTINUE, UNCHALLENGED, HIS AUTOCRATIC POLICIES AT BWI. THEREFORE, IT IS TIME FOR MR. SAED TO GO. AMERICA IS NOT IRAN! HE SHOULD NOT BE ALLOWED TO GET ANOTHER CHANCE IN RUNNING THE BWI TAXI SERVICE. THE DRIVERS DESERVE BETTER, PLEASE!!

      Chuks

      • Diriehv

        I can not said it better than you did, Chuks. I think we might need to expose this to the media, possibly to legal investigation. Am talking through appropriate authority and the end result might look deferent than what we think. this time the upstairs (Airport officials) can go down with him.

        Mike

  • Harrypotterswimgirl

    the drivers in thar hearing supporting the association were day shift and night shift drivers.also i think that governor omalley is sharp enough to see that their is somthing fishy going on.

  • The sad fact of the matter is, the taxi industry in the Baltimore area, or perhaps even in Maryland at large is an absolute shameful tragedy. For an industry highly regulated by government, the working conditions of the typical laborer (cab drivers) is absolutely deplorable. The regulators pay scant attention to these things, more concerned with rates, equipment, insurance and other matters. These too are all important, but what is wholly missing from the watchful eye of so called regulators, is the HUMAN resources involved. If only they knew. Just about every advancement in fair labor practices and modern advances in rights of the worker are routinely violated by the owners and management in the taxi industry.

    You have a few guys at the top collecting big time bucks, and a ton of little guys at the bottom, literally slaving away to make the guys at the top rich. No insurance, no sick pay, no nothing. I look forward to Governor O’Malley taking a closer look at this matter, but I hope he doesn’t just stop at BWI.

    Personally, I see no reason why any one company should be awarded the contract. It should be opened to ANY properly licensed and insured taxi driver and car. A simple management authority can be put into place to ensure compliance with strict standards of safety, and appearance. This practice has been put to use by other progressive thinking airports. Shift managers would ensure order and enforcement, asking those out of compliance to pull out of the line.

    There is no need for government sponsored monopoly. No good reason for the contract which expired years ago to continue to get temporary extension. The stated reason of ensuring continuing service is bogus and shallow. Just a mile away at the BWI Amtrak station, there is a well functioning open taxi stand, with no one having a contract, and guess what; there is continued uninterrupted service. This concern sited is nonsense.

  • DAGGY5

    I do applause the BPW for its understanding of the drivers problem. I was very much appreciated the Governor for his conclusion. What was shameful was on this hearing is that, the assistant Attorney General Mrs Louisa Goldstein’s effort to defend BWI Taxi management’s interest at the cost of the suffering of poor drivers. It makes one wonder why? what can be her benefit? why she make a full out of her self? Does she have share in the business? There must be, other wise, she have no business protecting the Taxi Management, owned by individual. Her job must be to protect the government.

    This Management have been running the Airport Taxi for the past 13 years. The existing contract ended in 2008, since then the contract has been extended 3 times. On 03/23/2011 Mrs Louisa Goldstein literally begged the BPW for the forth time a one year extension. Her intention is to keep BWI Taxi Management to continue exploitation and fill up her purse. MAA has been paying blind eyes to all the injustice going on at BWI airport Taxi. The drivers has put up tremendous effort to expose the injustice to MAA high ranking authorities. Nothing stop BWI Taxi Management from exploiting and oppressing the helpless drivers.

    Mrs Louisa Goldstein must be reported to and investigated by INTERNAL AFFAIRS for bad practice.

    I hope the BPW will finalize this matter in fever of the drivers after the ninety days deadline.

    I WISH THE DRIVERS THE BEST.

    UNITED YOU STAND STRONG!

    • Hyacinthnwachukwu4life

      I think that it is appropriate to let both the Governor, O’malley and MAA know about the deplorable working conditions prevailing at the BWI/Thurgood Marshal Airport that after the BWI Taxi Contract Hearing on Wednesday March 23, 2011 the BWI Taxi Management, Mr. Saed in particular, has intensified his crackdown on pro-union members who are only demanding for a negotiable and balanced condition of service in view of the current state of the economy and massive decline in ridership at the airport. In most case, these innocent drivers who are struggling to make honest- living instead of becoming social burden to the government, have been sent home for mere reason of not putting their dome-light on while sitting idle on the holding-lot area;please note that this is not in the Terminal area where the drivers pick-up fares, and most importantly and sadly enough, these victims apparently forgot to put on the dome-light but have it in their vehicles and they were not given the chance to put it on even when they apologetically begged to be allowed to put it on; but only to be sent home for 24hrs thereby depriving them of the income for that day which will no longer be recouped. The question is , ‘does the BWI Taxi really need dome-light? What is the reason for having dome-light on a Taxi-cab? The reason for putting dome-light on Taxi-cab is to serve as a signal to a potential rider who may take advantage of the approaching taxi by flagging it down for service. Therefore, in the case of BWI Taxi, dome-light is immaterial and unnecessary hence BWI Taxi drivers are prohibited from picking-up fares on the streets, except at designated dispatching points at the BWI Airport. Comparatively, the BWI Super Shuttle has no dome-light, neither does the Dulles Airport Taxi.

  • Joonsoo22

    I have been driving for the BWI Airport Taxi last 20 years. I, as a Korean immigrant, appreciate for this job especially in this difficult economic time.
    I think whoever has gotten the contract with the State, the situation of BWI taxi drivers did not get much better.
    Unfortunately, most drivers accept the contract annually regardless its fairness otherwise they would not be able to work. So, I suggest that State authority should review and confirm driver’s annual contract paper and let the management company write it better (make it more fair) before every individual driver renew his/her contract with the company.
    Right now, I am in Korea because my father is very sick but then I had to pay the stand fee in advance before I left to avoid any penalty. I feel so burden that I have to pay for staying longer my father’s funeral ,when the flight to Korea; ticket cost $1,700 plus stand fee without work.

  • Pingback: Taxi-USA.com()