Source AP ©

New York City taxi drivers' group to protest new rules

A New York City taxi drivers' group will strike because of new rules: to carry electronic equipment, including GPS and credit card systems.

"Leave the car parked at home or at the garage. No yellow cabs for hire," said Bhairavi Desai, spokeswoman for the New York Taxi Workers Alliance. The group has called for a Wednesday morning strike.

The alliance, which counts about one-fifth of the Taxi & Limousine Commission's 44,000 licensed drivers among its members, is calling for drivers to go on strike for 48 hours to protest a requirement that all cabs feature Global Positioning System technology.

Desai said there were no talks scheduled before the strike date, but the alliance was open to discussion. She would not comment on what type of agreement was necessary to halt the strike.

Several other drivers' groups that represent thousands of city cab drivers have released statements opposing the strike. Mayor Michael Bloomberg said he did not think it would go forward.

"I hope cooler heads prevail," he said. "It's not in their interest, it's not in the city's interest."

Bloomberg said the city has contingency plans in case of a strike, and he did not think a job action would be effective given that this is a four-day week because of the long Labor Day holiday.

The TLC is requiring all 13,000 city cabs to have touch-screen and GPS as the cabs come up for inspection, starting Oct. 1.

The technology will let passengers pay by credit card, check on news stories, map their taxi's current location and look up restaurant and entertainment information. The commission says the GPS could help recover lost property.

The Taxi Workers Alliance fears the device could be used to track drivers' movements. The alliance also has expressed concern about fees that drivers would pay for credit card processing.

The alliance is an advocacy group, not a labor union. The group organized a one-day strike in 1998 that caused headaches for many residents and tourists and had city officials hustling to line up buses and vans.

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