While the struggle between taxi companies and ridesharing startups like Uber grab all the headlines, a pioneering group of cabbies are combining the best of traditional taxi service and new ridesharing systems, but with an important twist. These cabbies are creating cabby-owned taxi cooperatives, sometimes with the help of unions, and offering smartphone taxi hailing on top of a traditional service. This new setup gives drivers more job security, better pay, ownership of and a say in their company as well as the ability to offer more convenient smartphone hailing taxi service to customers. This is part of a surge of experimentation in democratizing ownership in enterprises, including, appropriately, in the sharing economy.
In 2007, Denver taxi drivers joined Communications Workers of America Local 7777. In 2009, they launched the city’s first taxi driver-owned worker’s cooperative: Union Taxi. Five years down the road, a new bunch taxi drivers, tired of the high cab leasing fees and poor working conditions at traditional cab companies, started clamoring to organize another cooperative in Denver. They joined CWA Local 7777 and are in the process of launching a new worker-led company.
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