Tuesday Miami-Dade taxi drivers organized with New Vision Taxi Association picketed outside of Government Center, where the county commissioners were meeting. The taxi drivers are engaged in a campaign to stop the passage of a law giving the county power to ticket any driver who drive without a functioning Sun Pass in their car. The drivers are demanding that the Sun Pass, a private commodity, be optional rather than state mandated. The county has been ticketing drivers for years without ever having passed into law an ordinance that would given them the power to do so. The new initiative by county commissioners to pass such an ordinance has been delayed twice before amidst protests by cab drivers. Drivers argue that they are being discriminated against as no other drivers (such as limo or shuttle van drivers) are being targeted for the law. The proposed ordinance falls upon individuals rather than companies, which creates paradoxes. A driver who rents different vehicles daily is unable to obtain a Sun Pass for each vehicle, which requires registering your personal license plate, and therefore would be ticketed for the owner not having obtained a Sun Pass for the vehicle they rent. New Vision says that such tickets are common.
The ordinance was again delayed by the county commissioners during the protest. Drivers distributed flyers, chanted, and held signs, while some entered the commissioners chambers while wearing T-shirts reading “Sun Pass should be optional”. The drivers vow to continue the fight until the attempt to force them to buy a state-sponsored commodity is abandoned.
The action by drivers attracted the interest of those who would see the workers’ struggle drawn into institutional channels. Three candidates for Florida state congress, members of the community relations board, and uninformed personnel visited the drivers. Reporters from various local news outlets attended, though only the Miami Herald ran an article on the fight. The message of this circus was that the drivers should take their strength to realms outside of their control, the ballot box and media, to try and win favor from those in power. However as we have seen again and again, it is only when workers fight with where their strength is, their work and communities, that they will win their gains. New Vision Taxi Alliance sat on the county’s Taxi Action Group for years without any significant victories through its lobbying. It has only been when a series of actions, wildcats, and picketing has been unleashed by cabbies that the authorities have been willing to meet their demands.
Sun Pass likewise will be defeated not through flashy marketing or good will by one of the rulers, but by the collective strength and fight of the taxi drivers and our communities organized alongside them.