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Hunger Strike! How Immigrant Taxi Drivers Took on City Hall

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When Augustine Tang’s father passed away, Augustine decided to inherit his taxi medallion – the license that had allowed his father to drive a yellow taxi cab in New York City for decades. But the medallion came with a $530,000 debt trap and years of struggling to escape it. So Tang joined a push by the local taxi drivers’ union, to campaign for debt relief. And eventually, city resistance to worker demands culminated in a 15-day hunger strike to convince City Hall that immigrant taxi drivers deserved a fair deal. The drivers’ struggles for livable working conditions showed how political power doesn’t just come down to votes. It’s a reminder how strong collective will can be, especially for those often silenced and ignored by our imperfect democracy. Brought to you from the podcast Self Evident.

Image Credit: Self Evident and AZI media

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Featuring:

  •  Augustine Tang, Taxi Driver in New York City and Hunger Striker

Credits:

Self Evident Credit:

  • Produced by Self Evident Media
  • Reported by Sahil Nisha, with help from Alina Panek and Janrey Serapio
  • Interview recordings by Sahil Nisha, Stacey Wong, and James Boo
  • Public protest and demonstration recordings by Augustine Tang, NYTWA, CM Zohran Mamdani, and Former CM Brad Lander
  • Edited by James Boo and Julia Shu
  • Fact checked by Harsha Nahata and Tiffany Bui
  • Sound mix by Timothy Lou Ly
  • Our Executive Producer is Ken Ikeda

The Making Contact Team

  • Host: Salima Hamirani
  • Interim Executive Director: Jessica Partnow
  • Staff Producers: Anita Johnson, Amy Gastelum, Salima Hamirani

   

Music Credits:

  • Music by Epidemic Sound

  • At the Moment theme music by Satoru Ohno

More Information:

TRANSCRIPT:

Salima Hamirani: I’m Salima Hamirani. And on today’s making contact, we’d like to introduce you to our friends at a podcast that we’ve begun to air called Self Evident.

James Boo: Hey, uh, good to be here. I’m James Boo I’m the managing producer at self-evident. Uh, we’re an independent studio and a home for Asian American audio stories that come from our day to day lives.

Sahil Nisha: I’m Sahil Nisha. I’m a reporter with AZ media. Uh, we’re an independent news organization focused on Asian American stories. Um, my team and I worked with James and his, uh, team over itself evident to produce this story about the New York taxi workers’ Alliance and their hunger strike, which happened in the fall of 2020

Salima Hamirani: could you tell us a little bit more about this piece?

James Boo: Sure I can start. So this story is part of the solution journalism network advancing democracy initiative, and that’s a grant project that helped us report on actions that different Asian American and Pacific Islander communities are taking to protect their families. Uh, especially when it comes to problems that can’t really be addressed just through.

Sahil Nisha: we all thought that it was really cool when the taxi workers went on hunger strike and we were just blown away when it actually worked. Uh, they were able to secure major life-saving debt relief, and that was all after years of exploitation. After they’d been left out to drive by city officials. The same city officials, in fact, who pretty much control the market and decide who gets to be a legal taxi driver in new

Salima Hamirani: And, and you mentioned that this is part of the solutions journalism network. What does that mean? What’s the solutions piece versus other types of journalism that focus on political struggles?

James Boo: So I think we’re all used to thinking of the news in like 20 22 as it’s just a giant doom scroll, uh, dumpster fire, like a milkshake, duck, black hole um, but SGN is a nonprofit and they help journalists, including a lot of minority journalists do pretty thorough. Reporting on real things that communities are doing that could create a positive impact.

So the idea with solution stories, not just to cover a problem, but also show the tangible solutions that are really being created all around us. Like even if they don’t always get the same level of news coverage,

Sahil Nisha: I’d also add that we recognize most taxi drivers in New York are immigrants, and so they don’t have the right to vote. so they didn’t have much political power because they can’t vote. They aren’t a traditional workforce where they can, you know, negotiate with one single employer, but they were still able to use union strategies and tactics to organize a plan and execute it successfully.

And this story’s really personal because it comes from the perspective of Asian immigrants, uh, who make up a lot of taxi drivers. Uh, but this story also follows them to really happy moments and explores the next steps that have to happen so they can all see justice.

Salima Hamirani: Thank you to you, both. Here’s their piece on the taxi driver’s hunger strike

ACT I: Own a Piece of the American Nightmare

Sylvia: So Janrey, I remember hearing about the hunger strike when it was happening, and it was quite shocking to me.

Janrey Serapio: Yeah, I think I’m more used to seeing protest marches, or you know, a lot of the get-out-the-vote stuff around elections —

SP: Right, and that’s what drew me to this. I think it’s really interesting, because a lot of the people in the hunger strike were Asian immigrants. And some of them weren’t citizens, and couldn’t vote.

SP: So I think there’s something for us to learn here about how immigrant communities can fight for what they need, without necessarily using the electoral system.

SP: So, what started all this?

MUSIC: An energetic hip-hop beat begins

JS: Well, to start, if you want to legally drive a yellow taxi cab in New York, you’re gonna need a taxi medallion.

SP: Like, a license?

JS: Basically, yeah. Taxi medallions are sold and regulated by the city government.

SP: So the city makes money from the medallions.

JS: Yeah, exactly. That’s not the only reason medallions were introduced… But according to The New York Times, three consecutive mayors of New York — Giuliani, Bloomberg, and de Blasio — used these medallion sales to balance their budgets.

SP: That’s wild.

JS: I know. And like we’ve been saying, going all the way back to the 1990s, the majority of New York taxi & limo drivers have been immigrants.

JS: So in 2004, the Bloomberg administration launched this campaign to sell nearly a thousand new medallions, at super high prices.

JS: And it was easy for the city, to market medallions to immigrants as a “once in a lifetime” opportunity, because for so many years, that’s how it felt to drivers .

AUGUSTINE TANG: You know, my father never really talked about the industry much. But one thing he did talk about it, was how proud he was of owning a piece of New York, which is a medallion.

MUSIC: Energetic hip-hop beat takes on a slightly more distant tone

JS: That’s Augustine Tang. He’s a New York taxi driver, who inherited his father’s medallion.

AT: I remember just looking at him when he talks about owning a Yellow Taxi and, and owning a piece of New York was, was just so –  he was just so proud of talking about and he said, “This is one of these things that we will have forever and that it will help us with our future.”

MUSIC: Hip-hop beat ends on an ominous note

JS: Augustine’s dad passed away from a heart attack, in 2015.

JS: And his dad never got Augustine involved with his loan for the taxi medallion, so Augustine had a choice.

JS: He could let the City take back the medallion, which his dad was SO proud of owning…

JS: …or he could inherit the medallion. Which also meant inheriting the mountain of debt that came with it.

AT: I just decided, like, look, let me just let me just try this. I understand that the loan of $530,000 is a lot.

AT: But I just felt like the need to try to keep it within the family.

SP: Wait, waitwaitwait.

SP: Augustine owed five hundred and thirty thousand dollars?!

JS: Yeah, and that’s actually just about the average amount of debt that a taxi driver would owe at this time.

SP: So he owed that money to the city of New York.

JS: Actually, no.

JS: That’s where it gets kinda tricky. Yes, the city set these high prices, but the drivers would actually borrow the money from private lenders to pay those prices.

SP: OK… so basically… The City is saying, “Here’s a way to build wealth for your family!” When in reality these medallions would become the opposite, like this huge financial burden on your family’s future.

JS: Right, and city officials were talking about this being a crisis in the making, as early as 2011.

AT: It wasn’t something that the city didn’t know that they were doing. There was an internal memo within the city, too, that that talked about how the medallion was overinflated.

AT: but nobody said anything.

JS: The price of medallions peaked at around one million dollars in 2014… and then just totally crashed, without ever coming back to that level.

JS: And the debts for driver-owners got even worse, because of predatory loan conditions. A New York Times investigation showed that lenders were charging extra fees, garnishing cab fares, and bumping interest rates to 24% if the medallion wasn’t paid off in the first three years.

JS: So paying off these loans by working harder? That was just completely impossible.

JS: The drivers’ debts started dragging down their family finances … making it harder to pay for rent, college tuition, or even just groceries.

MOUHAMADOU ALIYU: I cried many times, I am so desperate.

JS: Here’s driver Mouhamadou Aliyu, speaking with Maximillan Alvarez of the Real News Network.

MA: Not only because of myself but because of my kids. You know, it’s like…I’m on my way out of poverty and the system is pulling me back to poverty.

MUSIC: A soft and melancholy, yet tense, hip-hop beat begins

JS: The dream of owning a piece of New York City turned into just… owe-ing soooo much in debt, with no hope of ever paying it off.

JS: Augustine was seeing all this play out when he took over for his dad. And he got close with other drivers who had the exact same problem.

AT: I would meet them at taxi stands. And I befriended one guy, named Kenny Chow. And we would have coffee, and we would talk about owning a medallion. And, you know, I started seeing him at the airports, and I started seeing him in the middle of the street, and we would say “Hi” to each other.

AT: …Um, at the time he has $700,000 in loan. And he was actually optimistic, saying that “Oh, the city has to do something. There’s no way we could allow this many Ubers operating in New York City…” Just crazy amount of congestion.

JS: Over the course of the next year, Kenny’s optimism… really faded away.

MUSIC: Hip-hop beat becomes more sparse and eery

AT: I bumped into him looking for medicine for his wife, who had cancer.You know, I, I pulled him aside, I was just like, “Hey, I want to make sure that you are okay.”

AT: He was telling me how he was working 16 hour days. And as in the middle of all this driving his wife back and forth to the hospital and back home…

AT: I see him, just really frail, and I saw the way he was and how, how, how… scared he looked.

AT: He ended up taking his own life.

AT: Because of the heavy burden of the Medallion mortgage… as well as he has house payments, so…

AT: Ever since then, I… I personally felt like no one should ever try to go through that.

JS: But the pressure of all this debt didn’t stop there.

MUSIC: Hip-hop beat ends with soft, eerie grace notes on a keyboard

AT: We had upwards of nine total suicides. And ever since the suicides started happening, we we started speaking with their families and we started speaking with, you know, our elected officials, slowly trying to tell them that this isn’t — you know — this isn’t fair for someone who – for people who believed and trusted the city.

AT: And I realized that it wasn’t just my friend Kenny that was going through that. It was a lot of immigrant drivers that were… that were…

AT: …people like my father who didn’t really have a voice.

AT: You know, sacrificing everything they had and still was not able to make ends meet. Think about the toll that that has on not just the driver itself but the family.

ACT II: Make the Road to Justice

SOUND: Protesters chanting and drumming

BHAIRAVI DESAI: This is just wrong. And the City has to take action. And it has to take the right action. And it has to take significant action. And it needs to take the action now!

SOUND: NYTWA members yelling “Now! Now!”

Janrey Serapio: That was Bhairavi Desai.

JS: In the ‘90s, she worked at the Committee Against Anti-Asian Violence — where she helped South Asian taxi drivers bargain with the City Taxi and Limousine Commission.

JS: From there, she went on to found the New York Taxi Workers Alliance. It’s a union that, today, has over 20,000 members.

JS: And what you heard was Bhairavi speaking at a vigil that the Alliance organized for Augustine’s close friend, Kenny Chow.

AT: And ever since then, I ever since I went to his – Kenny Chow’s vigil, I met my union, which is Taxi Workers Alliance, New York Taxi Workers Alliance.

AT: And I saw what they do and how are they trying to get the message out there and…

AT: I, I told them I was like, I have — “Any, anything you need. I’m going to try my best. And, you know, I’m gonna try to help make sure the world understands that this is a real crisis that we have here.”

MUSIC: Midtempo, slightly grimy-sounding funk beat begins

JS: In the Summer of 2019, the Alliance called for the City to help these drivers — like Augustine — renegotiate their debt to lenders.

JS: And in 2020, they came up with a plan, that would set a cap on how much debt any medallion owner could owe to their private lender — and permanently forgive the rest.

JS: They figured that if the medallion loans were lowered to a reasonable amount, drivers would actually be able to pay them off by working their cabs.

JS: But to make this solution attractive to lenders, they had to convince the city to step in and help out — by becoming the backup option that lenders could trust.

AT: So my union created this financial solution.

AT: Where if we could get the lenders, the, and the city to sit down with us, we could explain to them that there’s a way to make this — make us all whole.

AT: That’s pretty much having the city backing up all the loans…

AT: …That would create the, um, the lenders, to lower the principal of the loans to a manageable state.

JS: At first, the Mayor’s office ignored the Alliance plan.

MUSIC: Funky beat shifts to a more hard-hitting, insistent drumbeat

JS: So from 2019, and all the way through the toughest times of the Covid pandemic, the Alliance drivers started taking direct action to keep their demands in the public eye and to gain support.

JS: Augustine told us that they also joined other activist groups, who were trying to help undocumented workers get COVID relief or fighting to secure rights or protections for gig delivery workers.

JS: The thing these groups all had in common was that our democratic system was excluding these workers, especially non-citizens, from having a say in policies that could mean the difference between life and death in their communities.

JS: One of the groups that Augustine showed up to support was literally called the “Fund Excluded Workers Coalition.”

AT: We would drive our taxis to block other cars from somehow trying to go past them while they marched.

AUGUSTINE: And so we we shut down bridges, or you’re talking about Brooklyn Bridge, 59th Street Bridge Manhattan Bridge, we shut down bridges with them.

SOUND: Protesters chant “Debt Forgiveness! Now! Debt forgiveness! Now!”

MUSIC: Funky beat fades out on a synth chord

JS: On top of these direct action protests, the Alliance was reaching out to elected officials who could influence the Mayor’s office.

JS: And they even drove down to Washington DC, in their cabs.

MUSIC: Motif from the funky beat returns through a light keyboard part and very light hi-hats in the background

AT: We would motorcade, we would speak with certain elected officials that will come out and talk with us. We would, if any, they have phone conversations, because we wanted to show them that this is important. This is something that’s been plaguing a lot of these drivers for such a long time. And really, you know, stole their lives.

AT: We really tried to make sure that people understood that this is a life and death situation for all of us.

SP: And all of this was to convince the Mayor of New York City to accept the Alliance plan, right?

JS: Yeah.

SP: So did it work?

JS: Actually, no. They went with their own plan.

SP: And how was the City plan different from the Alliance plan?

JS: Well, the City plan didn’t have a debt cap, at all. They just offered new loans from the city, that the drivers could use to restructure their old loans.

SP: OK, but like, they still owe the money, right? And if you’re getting charged 24% interest on half a million bucks… I mean, I can see why the drivers were asking for debt forgiveness, not asking for another loan.

JS: Yeah!

AT: They came up with a plan that just wasn’t going far enough. And drivers were still being will be foreclosed on their homes would be repossessed, or put liens on.

AT: And they would just, you know, be living in indentured servitude.

JS: In September of 2021, Alliance drivers started camping, day and night, outside of City Hall.

SOUND: Protesters chant “Talk to the union! We want justice! Talk to the union! We want action! “

AT: We were on the 31st day, camping out at City Hall. 24/7, meaning that there was always at least one taxi and someone sleeping over to hold down the fort. We were not leaving.

AT: We knew how important it was to to keep this up. And before the de Blasio administration leaves because we did not want to take a risk of it dragging out any farther.

AT: You know, 15 days turned into 30 days, and then 30 days turned into 46 days, over there, protesting 24/7. We would have done it for a hundred days.

MUSIC: A slow-paced, haunting hip-hop heat begins, creating a feeling of cycles repeating on a loop

JS: Occupying city hall was part of the Alliance’s bigger strategy for putting a spotlight on the Mayor’s next move.

JS: More and more public officials from the City, State, and Federal levels started to announce their support for the Alliance and their debt relief plan.

AT: And we had all these right people backing us and yet, still, nothing was being done. Nothing was being done. And we, you know, be it’s so easy to get so frazzled and frustrated because you’re like, “What else needs to be done?”

AT: There were times that we felt like it was never gonna work…and we always tried to tell each other, ”It has to.”

SP: OK, so Janrey, at this point Augustine and his fellow drivers had been doing all these protests and outreach efforts to elected officials for like, two years?

JS: Yeah.

SP: Part of me is just like, “What the Hell?” Why wasn’t the City doing anything about this?

AT: I think honestly, it’s just ego, a lot of it. They, they, they felt like their plan was, was best.

AT: And it was the easiest way, because all the pressure is still on the drivers. So why wouldn’t they want that?

JS: But by refusing the Alliance plan, de Blasio left Augustine and his fellow drivers really no option, but to do something radical.

MUSIC: Hip-hop beat suddenly swells and cuts off

BREAK –

SH: We’re just jumping in to remind you that you’re listening to Making Contact and a piece from our friends at the podcast Self Evident, called “Hunger Strike! How Immigrant Taxi Drivers Took on City Hall” To get more information about the show and get behind the scenes information – visit us at radioproject.org. You can also find us on social media. On Facebook we’re making contact, on twitter we’re making underscore contact and on Instagram we’re making contact radio project. And now back to the show.

ACT III: Hunger Strike

SOUND: Protestors bang on drums and cheer

BHAIRAVI DESAI: We’re on a hunger strike today. We’re on a hunger strike today to shock the system that has made us hungry for years.

BHAIRAVI DESAI We’re on a hunger strike today because we need to shock the consciousness of the mayor, to understand: It may not feel like it was his administration, but make no mistake, when he inherited this city, he also inherited us.

Janrey Serapio: You might remember that voice from earlier.

JS: It’s Bhairavi Desai, Executive Director of the New York Taxi Workers Alliance.

JS: A hunger strike is an incredibly risky move. But it wasn’t unprecedented.

JS: Just a few months earlier, the Fund Excluded Workers Coalition had staged their own hunger strike against the State government — and they won.

MUSIC: A tense, bass-heavy hip-hop beat begins

JS: Augustine took some inspiration from their example when he joined the Alliance hunger strike.

AT: we learned this from the FEW Coalition, which is the Fund Excluded Workers Coalition, where they also had a hunger strike for I believe, it was 24 days. And I’ve actually met one of one of the ladies that did it for 24 days. And, you know, she, she explained to me how it’s really all mental. And, you know, if it’s for a cause that you really believe in, then, you don’t really feel hungry.

MUSIC: Drums cut out, replaced by a soft and dreamy keyboard arrangement

AT: …And I told her that she lied. (laughs)

AT: Because I felt hungry every day. (laughs)

AT: We started doing it for five days, and then five days, 10 to 10 days, and, you know, and it lasted up to 15 days, and, you know, after a while, it’s true, you don’t feel as hungry anymore, and the hardest part was going home. But I needed to get that good rest.

MUSIC: Hip-hop drums return

JS: Augustine and the other hunger strikers were living off water, coconut water, and sometimes Gatorade — or vegetable broth.

JS: A team of volunteer doctors stayed at the camp to keep an eye on the drivers’ health.

AT: But what’s amazing was that you come back to the camp, and you just don’t feel hungry, you feel like, “I could, I could do this forever, if I need to.”

AT: Because, you know, these are the men and women that that needs this the most, and these guys, they, they’re just good family men and women that have, that have just worked so hard for something and, and the city really turned their backs on them.

MUSIC: Hip-hop beat ends out on a soft, echo-ing melody

JS: Even people who weren’t drivers joined the hunger strike. Like street vendors, the children of taxi drivers…

JS: And elected officials — like State Assembly Member Zohran Mamdani.

ZOHRAN MAMDANI: And I will be going on hunger strike with the New York Taxi Workers Alliance.

SOUND: Crowd cheers, bangs on drums, and honks on hand-held airhorns

ZOHRAN MAMDANI: I will be on strike for as long as it takes, for us to get the justice that we deserve.

ZOHRAN MAMDANI: We are going to be moving all of my meetings, all of my calls all of my office duties, I will be taking them from this protest site.

SOUND: Crowd once again cheers, bangs on drums, and honks on hand-held airhorns

MUSIC: A tense, slow-paced hip-hop beat with a smooth, dreamy synth melody begins

JS: On day six of the hunger strike, Mamdani was arrested by NYPD along with five other elected officials, for disorderly conduct.

JS: And as the strike kept going, the lack of food started to take its toll.

AT: For me personally, every day I would wake up and and think like, oh, is today going to be the day or break my promise. It’s hard because you wake up, you’re just you’re exhausted, you HAVE blurred vision. You just don’t feel complete and, and yet, when you go there to the camp, and you see so many people, not only just go being out there, but also doing the hunger strike with you. I think we motivated each other, to a point where we felt there was it was, it was all or nothing.

JS: On November third — fifteen days into the hunger strike — Executive Director Desai sent the drivers a message. From inside City Hall.

AT: She texted us: “Get the avocados ready. And you know, I was confused, because I was just like, “What are you talking about, avocados?”

AT: And I texted her back. I was like, “Are we throwing them at City Hall?” (laughs) I just did not understand it. I don’t know. Also, I was on my 13th Day of hunger strike so… (laughs) So I think that was okay. But she said no, we could finally eat.

AT: When they came out… Man. We all just celebrated, and hugged, cried…We ate, we ate the best avocado I’ve ever had. We danced. And, you know, we couldn’t believe that we were able to get this done.

MUSIC: Hip-hop beat ends on a dreamy keyboard melody

ACT IV: Victory in an Imperfect Democracy

SOUND: Drivers gather in celebration as a form of South Asian dance music plays in the background.

Syvlia Peng: (Laughs in delight)

SP: I’m like, looking at this video, and just, all these Asian immigrant taxi drivers, dancing in a circle, in the middle of the streets of Manhattan.

SP: It’s just so joyful and… triumphant!

Janrey Serapio: I know! It’s so nice to see them smile after so much turmoil during this whole thing, and like — they finally got their lives back!

SP: I know the Alliance drivers wanted the City to agree to their specific debt forgiveness plan. Is that what happened?

JS: Well, there was some compromise, but basically, yeah!

MUSIC: An upbeat, Latin-influenced trap beat begins

JS: So remember, the average debt for medallion owners was five hundred to six hundred thousand dollars.

SP: Right.

JS: After the hunger strike negotiations, each debt was capped at a hundred seventy thousand dollars, max.

SP: That’s huge!

JS: I know! They wiped out so much of this debt.

JS: And most importantly, the Alliance got a City-backed guarantee for the loans. So, if a medallion owner defaults on what they owe, then the lender can resell their medallion to help cover that debt.

JS: Then, the City will pay off whatever amount is still owed to the lender.

SP: Okay, so even in the worst case scenario, the driver can move on. And the lenders will still get paid.

JS: Exactly. But even though this agreement helped a lot of medallion owners — including Augustine — there were still lenders who didn’t want to sign the agreement. Which meant there were still drivers who needed help.

AT: We’re so happy. But yet we’re still not done yet. We’re not going to leave anybody behind. Because we understand that everybody needs to be on board on this. And they will be.

JS: So now, the Alliance is negotiating with a bunch of other lenders to get them on board with the same approach.

JS: In March of 2022, they drove their cabs out to Minnesota, to protest outside of a lender’s headquarters — putting pressure on the lender to sign up for debt forgiveness.

JS: And with the city still backing up their plan, they won — again!

NYTWA Organizer: Driver power!

NYTWA Members in unison: UNION POWER!

NYTWA Organizer: Driver power!

NYTWA Members in unison: UNION POWER!

NYTWA Organizer: You better believe it!

NYTWA Members in unison: UNION MADE IT!

NYTWA Organizer: You better believe it!

NYTWA Members in unison: UNION MADE IT!

NYTWA Organizer: Yeaah, we got a victoryyyyyy, yesssssss…

SP: Yes! I’m so inspired by this! And I’m really glad that nobody had to go on hunger strike again.

MUSIC: Latin-influenced trap beat ends

JS: Yeah! Especially because, if you think about it, a hunger strike isn’t something you would typically whip out to change someone’s mind.

SP: True…

JS: And in this case, the hunger strike was pointed at the New York City government, to get them involved in helping drivers. Because, you know, they’re supposed to be accountable to the people, right?

JS: But even then, Augustine reminded me that the hunger strike had to happen because there wasn’t really any other way for them to get these results in our democratic system.

AT: We started speaking with, you know, elected officials slowly trying to tell them that this isn’t, you know, this isn’t fair, uh, for someone who, for people who believed and trusted the city.

AT: And the hardest part was, you know, throughout this journey, a lot of officials just kind of wrote us off.

JS: So this was really one of my favorite things about this victory. You know, it shows that your political power doesn’t really depend on your vote… it depends on your actions.

SP: Janrey… are you telling people to stop voting?

JS: NOOOO! Syl, you know that’s not what I’m trying to say. I’m just saying, that that’s not all there is to it.

SP: Got it (laughs)

JS: Like, these medallion owners didn’t just vote their way out of their debt, you know. Many of them literally couldn’t.

JS: So they found other ways to participate in the political process.

JS: They tried direct action, coalition building… they started to really get organized.

JS: And they started to strengthen those friendships they had with generations of drivers that existed, already, in their community.

SP: That’s fair, and I think there’s a lot of people who put a lot of emphasis on elections…

JS: Mm.

SP: But what I’m learning from this hunger strike, is that it was the final act of a two-year marathon by drivers, putting their plan together, building up their squad, and getting the right elected officials onboard.

JS: Exactly.

SP: So when it was time to strike, everyone was united around the same strategy, and they were ready to put the word out.

JS: Yeah! And it’s that whole process of collaboration that I think made the hunger strike so effective.

JS: It showed how taking action in our democracy can go way beyond voting.

AT: One thing that I will always remember how, how powerful it felt being with other organizations.

AT: We’re all just working people just trying to get their fair share.

Credits

SH: That was Augustine Tang, and that does it for today’s show. Again thank you to both AZI media and the podcast Self Evident for that amazing story. You can find out more information about both projects on our website at radioproject.org. And we’d love to hear from you – do you have a story idea you’d like us to cover. And what did you think of today’s story? You can also leave us a comment or visit us on our social media. On facebook we’re Making Contact, on twitter we’re making underscore contact and on instagram we’re makingcontactradioproject.

I’m Salima Hamirani, thanks for listening to Making Contact.

 

Author: Radio Project

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