Green Taxi Coop

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Discussion

By Pat Conaty, Alex Bird and Cilla Ross:

"The Green Taxi Coop in Denver, is a co‐op that is fully unionised. Founded in response to the "Uberisation" of the taxi market in Denver, Green Taxi is the biggest taxi company in the city with 800 drivers, from 37 different nationalities, and 37 per cent of the market. It is now the second largest worker co‐operative in the United States.  

“These monopolies [Metro, Colorado Springs shuttle and Dashabout Roadrunner shuttle] rig the game for their own benefit. On the other hand, the choice between a monopoly and Uber, who has very little interest in securing the passenger or sustainably supporting the driver, between that is a huge opportunity and that’s where Green Taxi fits in,” said Jason Wiener, lawyer for Green Taxi.

Worker‐owned taxi co‐operatives already had a foothold in Colorado. Union Taxi23 of Denver, founded in 2008, had 264 drivers. But as they looked for ways to reach a scale that can compete with Uber and Lyft (there are approximately seven times more Uber drivers in Denver than regulated taxis), they ran up against transportation licensing laws in Colorado, which made it easier to form a new firm than expanding Union Taxi.

With the support of Communications Workers of America Local 7777 (CWA)24, which even included offering members rent‐free accommodation in the union offices, the new Green Taxi Coop was formed in the summer of 2014. Michael Peck of the ‘1Worker1Vote’ campaign in the USA has confirmed that further work on replicating the Green Taxi model is also underway in Philadelphia, Boston, Baltimore, New York and San Francisco.

Green Taxi Co‐operative uses a tailored app. There is a thriving market in these tailored apps, and examples include Cordic, used by both Central Taxis and City Cabs in Edinburgh, Cabgo which has been developed by Paul McCormack of Phoenix Taxi Co‐op in Liverpool, AutoCab used by Green Taxi Co‐op in Denver, whilst Union Taxi Co‐op in Denver have developed their own.

Our understanding, talking to app developers, is that it would be technically very easy for a co‐op or trade union to licence an off‐the‐shelf app like the ones listed, and set it up to work across the entire UK, thus undermining the advantage that Uber and Lyft have in the taxi market – their geographic reach.  

All it needs is for the co‐ops or unions to work together to broker a contract for such a system across the co‐ops/companies, and by licensing in this way, the upfront costs would be modest." (https://wiki.p2pfoundation.net/Trade_Union_and_Cooperative_Strategies_for_Organising_Precarious_Workers)