The Taxi Workers’ Union already represents the drivers of competitor Hamilton Cab.
There are differences between the structure of the two taxi companies, but with the 2011 decision allow for a union at Hamilton Cab, it was expected Blue Line drivers would be allowed to organize.
The OLRB ruled the taxi drivers are not independent contractors, but are in fact completely depended upon the employ of Blue Line for their livelihood.
“They are economically dependent upon Blue Line’s business … receive compensation as a result of their integration into Blue Line’s business,” wrote Ian Anderson for the Board. “They are subject to the direction and control of Blue Line while offering services as drivers of taxi vehicles bearing Blue Line’s markings and subject to Blue Line’s dispatch.”
“Bargaining will begin as soon as the employer makes himself available,” the union stated last week on its website in anticipation of the ruling. “The drivers have patience and we won’t give up until we have a fair contract.”
Hamilton Cab first contract talks stalled, being fought at OLRB
Drivers at Hamilton Cab have been negotiating their first contract for seven months now. Talks are stalled as both sides dispute the power of the cab dispatch company to negotiation for cab owners. The union has filed to the OLRB for a ruling.
Now that both companies are unionized, the OTWU can coordinate their actions with both companies, similar to UAW with the Big Three auto-makers.
Is Hamilton reviving the labour movement like in 1946?
This is a significant victory for the local labour movement. Taxi drivers are service employees in the private sector and the labour movement has spent a great deal of resources trying to organize the service sector. Now that all taxi drivers in the city are unionized, they’ll be looking at this success and what lessons can be applied to other efforts.
This could inspire other workers dependent about a sole employer but considered “independent contractors” to attempt a union drive.
Could Labour’s rebirth happen in the same city so vital to it’s post-WWII success? Labour has been on the retreat in the private sector, much as they were pre-WWII. The 1946 strikes in Hamilton resulted in labour union victories that lasted for nearly 40 years. Could history repeat itself again?
I’ll be watching the story develop.