Queens Assembly members Ron Kim, David Weprin, Clyde Vanel, Brian Barnwell and Michael Miller joined with the Bangladeshi American Advocacy Group, the New York Taxi Workers Alliance, United We Stand Black Car Drivers Union, the American Pakistani Public Affairs Committee, and over 100 community advocates this week in Albany to support the Taxi Driver Protection Act (A02880B).
The measure, which Kim sponsored, ups the penal code for assault a driver of a for-hire vehicle or transportation network company driver to a class D felony of assault in the second degree. In particular, the attendees called on the assembly to pass the bill for this year’s session, after it passed the senate but failed to pass the assembly last year.
“It’s hard to think of something more iconic than New York’s taxi cabs. But for a long time, our taxi workers and for-hire drivers have worked in fear. They are 20 times more likely to be killed on the job than the average worker, and they need our help. This bill, which previously passed the senate but languished in the assembly, extends protections already given to our bus and train operators by making it a felony to assault drivers,” said Kim.
Wepren said taxi drivers, many of whom work long hours to make ends meet, are among New York’s hardest working individuals and are integral to the functioning of our city.
“Nobody should have to fear violence while on the job and I’m glad to join my colleagues to ensure that we protect New York’s taxi workers by enacting the Taxi Driver Protection Act,” said Weprin.
Vanel pointed out that excluding for-hire-drivers out of the current list that protects bus operators, train operators, station agents and station cleaners is unfair. “We must work together to ensure the safety and welfare of these drivers and make sure the law applies to them too. Increasing visibility of certain laws to passengers and enforcing strict legislation to offender is what we need to provide a safe working environment for drivers,” he said.