SF cab drivers form a union while Rome burns

By Paul Bradley Carr , written on August 18, 2014

From The News Desk

San Francisco cab drivers have voted to unionize for the first time in over forty years, reports the SF Examiner.

The move, which is either the single smartest or single dumbest thing that cab drivers could do right now, comes as at least one SF cab company is threatening to convert to a limo company to compete with ridesharing services like Uber and Lyft.

Why smartest? Thanks to ridesharing, SF cab drivers are facing threats from all sides. On one side, Uber is reducing the number of available fares, and on the other side the squeezing of  cab company profits means that there's even less incentive for companies to offer benefits like healthcare. If there was ever a time when drivers need to fight for their rights, it's now.

Why dumbest? Because the cab industry in San Francisco is screwed. The very last thing cab companies need now is lobbying by drivers for a bigger slice of the already rapidly spoiling pie. And as for the increased possibility of a drivers' strike that naturally comes with unionization: A strike by drivers would pretty much guarantee that anyone able to make a choice would switch to un-unionized ridesharing companies.

The best case scenario is that unionization might give drivers a measure more of protection while they wait for the collapse of their industry. Judging by last week's vote, they've clearly decided that's better than nothing.