Sunday, June 19, 2011

On Protests and Strikes

Contrary to a commenter to my blog, I do not write in a dark room. My study is very well lit and overlooks a yard where a couple of wild cats are lounging in the uncut grass. Furthermore, I communicate with numerous taxi people either in person or via the Internet.

My resume also includes participation in numerous protests including ones against the Vietnam War (from 1964 to 1975) and every war (declared or undeclared) since then - in addition to various taxi demonstrations like the March 2009 one in the photo.

On top of that I've read a little history and watched CNN.

In short, I think that I've earned the right to shoot my mouth off on the subject.

What interests me are questions like: When is a protest justified and when is it not? When is a protest successful and when is it counter productive? Which tactics work and which don't?

But it takes money to protest and I have to drive a shift.

Sunday Morning.

This morning I wake up to discover that I'm already being anonymously attacked (see comments) and I haven't even written anything yet.

This is a symptom of the irrationality and emotionalism that has taken over seemingly everybody in the taxi business. Apparently, you no longer have to have an idea to be slandered. Having the possibility of having an idea is enough. But then, why should these people too cowardly to sign their names wait for an idea since all their slams are personal anyway?

Response to those Too Cowardly to sign their names.

If you want to know what I stand for read my blog in more detail.

As for the SFMTA seizing my medallion ... I'm one of a dozen or so people who helped stop Gavin Newsom from grabbing the medallions two years ago. I think Malcolm Heinicke still wants to do it. How is bashing me going to stop him?

Two things I stand for are common sense and fair play. I also highly value clear thinking which means I try to discuss an idea instead of attacking the person who holds it. I don't always succeed (as in the title of this section indicates) but I try.

Strikes vs Protests.

What is planned for Tuesday is protest not a strike.

A strike means refusing to work - usually for an extended period of time. Unless they are supported by a union, workers can't strike for very long. This is especially true in the taxi business where a driver loses $100 to $150 a day by not working.

When Protests Work.

Protests tend to work:
  • When they have a goal.
  • When the goal is possible to achieve.
  • When the protesters can get the public behind them.
  • When they either are not too frequent or don't go on for too long.
  • When they aren't confusing.

Protests with a Goal

The protest in the lead photo was partially successful.

It let the people in power know that the drivers were unhappy and led to a series of Town Hall meetings that resulted in the Pilot Plan. The MTA wanted $30 million for one year and ended up with $10 million in two years which means that the taxi industry paid $50 million less than the MTA originally wanted.

But, as noted by my friend Brad Newsham, it was only a partial victory and the problem still exists.

Brad, by the way, gave a pretty good example of an impractical goal at the last protest. He carried a sign calling for an end to "Cannibalism" by the MTA. If he meant that literally, I would hope that his goal has already been met. If he meant it as metaphor, the practice is unlikely ever to stop.

Newsham has clarified his goal a bit since then and now wants the MTA to channel all the money they take in from the sale of taxi's back into the cab industry. Although, this will probably take a long time and require legislation, it is possible and I'm firmly in support of it.

Goals Impossible to Achieve.

One driver told me that he was striking because he wanted "respect." Well - you're in the wrong business, dude. They don't respect me, whey should they respect you? You might get them to fear you but they probably do that already.

The Public ...

largely supported the May Protests. Most of my customers told me that they thought that 5% was unfair, and that it should be closer to 2% or 3%. They were also tipping me higher to cover the credit card fees.

When Protests Go On for Too Long ...

the public begins getting annoyed. If you inconvenience them too much, they will turn against the protesters - especially if the public becomes a direct target of the protests.

People are beginning to really complain about drivers not taking credit cards because they are being directly inconvenienced. And, they are starting to blame the drivers for this - not the MTA.

Tariq Mehmood was quoted in a newspaper as threatening to possibly block traffic as part of the "Strike."

He might want to reflect on how popular Critical Mass has made the Bicycle Coalition.

Deliberately blocking traffic would be the kiss of death for public support of the drivers.

Later: Confused messages.


  1. It must be a lot easier to stand for nothing than stand for something, right


    Or your going to work, as ordered by hayashi, to get some special

    Consideration, for selling out your fellow owners and drivers.

  2. Healy, Why that's a great idea. Just go out and drive that shift, I personally hope you Drive 7 shifts a week and have at least, 6 months worth of income saved up be- Cause your going to need it when the SFMTA ...Unilaterally decides to seize back your medallions, I mean their city owned Property, without just compensation, so yes, I say go pull a shift, why not!
    said Anonymous on On Protests and Strikes

  3. It sure is mighty white of you Healy, to expound with your pearls of wisdom

    Upon us lowly driver serfs.

    I sure hope that the medallion owners association has a legal rainy day fund,

    Because there going to need it for the hurricane that's bearing down upon them.

    Johnny Walker

  4. Hey Ed, Keep up the good work, brother. It stinks that when one sticks out one's neck, one usually gets whacked around a bit, but I think that comes with the territory, sorry to say. And sorry for the personal pain that may have caused you. I've felt my share of it from time to time. Anyway, I salute you for having been the first person (first I heard, anyway) to start communicating so publicly about the industry, to the industry, and to everyone else who cares to listen. Brad (not anonymous) Newsham

  5. I guess it just goes to show, Healy, that some animals are more equal than others.

  6. Thanks for an intelligible comment, Brad.

  7. Johnny Walker sez:

    It must really suck to have to put out " confused messages " right healy?

    I guess in terms of your credibility, the wheels must be coming off the wagon,

    But not soon enough!

  8. Brad keep up the work. What work ? Ed will say
    bad work but I say GOOD work. I typed it in
    capital letters so ed need something to say.
    Ed, you got no shame. Do you have one ???
    Chris Hayashi is a must to go. One of her
    outsider boss said -- she must go. Someone
    said she is fool.

  9. Healy, Mark wasted 20 years of his time trying
    to teach you a lesson of class of KG-2.

  10. I realise that respect is not black and white or yes or no, both it and disrespect are on a scale of 1 to 10. It is a constant and eternal battle to tip the scale in your favor. No, I didn't chose this line of work to bask in eternal respect, but as long as I am here, I will support everyone who is pushing the scale of respect the right direction!!