HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - So far today, a work stoppage by Honolulu cab drivers has not impacted cab operations at Honolulu International Airport, according to Department of Transportation spokesman Dan Meisenzahl.
"No passengers are having to wait for cabs, and the holding lots are full," said Meisenzahl as of 10:30 Thursday morning. Meisenzahl said only about 20 cabs were seen out of the lineup area, or "on strike" according to AMPCO Express officials he checked with who oversee the cab system at the airport.
Yesterday, disgruntled cab driver, Abraham Martin, who drives for United, said he was organizing a work stoppage involving hundreds of cab drivers over a dispute with new rules being enforced by AMPCO under a newly awarded five year contract with the State Department of Transportation which started in February. Prior to that, AMPCO had been on operating on a monthly permit basis.
But the hundreds of striking cab drivers was not visible earlier today. Martin said at least 100 cabbies were not driving today, but there was no way for us to independently confirm those numbers nor visually account for them, since only about 20 -30 drivers he said were gathered with him near one of the airport holding lots, but without any picket signs.
Among the new guidelines for the drivers who register with AMPCO to participate in airport pickups are a dress code, like Aloha attire, and for them to provide credit card service for customers. Meisenzahl said AMPCO plans to provide the equipment and foot the bill for the credit card transaction fees. But in order to cover the costs, Meisenzahl said AMPCO has raised its long distance fare fees charged to drivers from $4 to $5. It's a fee hike which Martin claims is unlawful and expensive. Martin claims that drivers have yet to be notified by the company of the guideline changes or that it intends to provide the credit card machines.
Martin, who admitted to having served prison time for credit card fraud and other crimes, said he just formed the Hawaii Taxi Cab Drivers Union last month to address the cabbie grievances. He also said he is the current union President. Thursday morning in a phone conversation, Martin said he doesn't have a problem with the credit card requirement, nor the dress code, but said he's mostly upset because he feels AMPCO is unlawfully changing the rules on cabbies and charging them a burdensome fee, given a difficult economy and rising gas prices. Martin claims the company is violating a contract with drivers that end in June, but the DOT disputes the existence of such a contract.