For 13 years, Dawood Ghedi paid whether he worked or not. Every Friday, he had to give cab companies $630 to secure a car for the following week.
Ghedi drove cabs seven days a week, he said, 12 to 14 hours a day. He bought his own gasoline and health insurance. He never earned a vacation day or sick time.
A 2012 City of Portland survey of 250 drivers found he wasn't the only one. Most Somali drivers Ghedi knew were working the same long hours for very little money.
"We were in a bad situation," Ghedi said. "But we have families. We have to work. I can't make it if I don't do 12 hours a day."
Ghedi and nearly three dozen other Portland cab drivers quit Friday morning. Saturday afternoon, they launched their own company. PDX Yellow Cab was four years in the making, the first major Somali-owned business to open in Portland.
"We've been struggling," Ghedi said. "We have 20 years, 15 years driving in this city. Today, we are owners. Today, we are free."
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