Unfare Smear? Using False Rape Charges, Chicago’s Union Cabbies Go After Uber and Lyft



For obvious reasons, unions do not like having non-union competition. Very simply, to a union, non-union competition undermines the economic job security of a union’s members, as well as takes money from a union’s coffers. As with other industries, the unionized taxi cab industry is no exception.

Since the inception of alternative transportation to taxi cabs, as more fares get drawn to “ride share” companies like Uber and Lyft, unions have fought to either unionize the drivers or shut them out of competing with them.

For example, from California to Seattle, the Teamsters have successfully sought unionize Uber’s drivers. However, in Washington DC, taxi cab drivers—who are already affiliated with the Teamsters—have been protesting Uber’s arrival in the nation’s capitol.

“If I have to be licensed, all other drivers should have to follow the same rules,” Earth Clark, a longtime D.C. taxicab driver who is the recording secretary of the Teamster-organized Taxi Operators Association Leadership Council, said at the protest.

Clark says she has been driving a cab in the city for 45 years but that the emergence of services like Uber and Lyft have made it hard for her to earn a living.

In Chicago, cabbies represented by the American Federation of State County & Municipal Employees (AFSCME) are also fighting non-union “rideshare” companies UberX and Lyft.

In an April 9th posting on AFSCME’s blog, the union stated that it had deliverd a petition with the signatures of 3,300 Chicago cabbies to the offices of Mayor Rahm Emanuel “urging the city to apply the same safety rules and regulations to Uber and other transportation network providers as are already applied to cabs.”

In the AFSCME post, a union member urged the mayor and city to “level the playing field for cab drivers and protect the public [emphasis added].”

The union then went on to cite an alleged sexual assault of a an UberX passenger by a driver.

“The recent reports of sexual assault by an UberX driver show that Uber can’t be trusted to police itself,” Johnson added. “It’s a serious public safety hazard, and one the city needs to address.”

The only problem is, the alleged sexual assault that AFSCME appears to be pointing to never happened, according to the Chicago Tribune.

Cook County prosecutors dropped charges Monday against a former Uber X driver accused of sexually assaulting a passenger, telling a judge they were acting after new evidence came to light.

Maxime Fohounhedo, who has been in jail on $500,000 bail since his December arrest, was expected to be released later Monday. His attorney, Shady Yousif Yassin, said the new evidence was an approximately nine-minute recording his client made on his cellphone while driving the alleged victim home in November.

[More details on the false rape charges being dropped here.]

The charges against the UberX driver were dropped—and Chicago Tribune reported on the news—on Monday, April 6th.

However, as AFSCME’s post appeared on the union’s blog on April 9th, it is hard to believe that AFSCME did not realize it was using a false narrative to smear Uber in order to further its union agenda.

More about Uber here…

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