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Airport taxi drivers want union rights, public oversight from Port Commission

Taxi drivers, represented by Teamsters Local 117, showed up at Tuesday's Port Commission meeting.

SEATTLE — During Tuesday’s Port of Seattle Commission meeting, dozens of taxi drivers showed up to call for public oversight of the on-demand ground transportation system at Seattle-Tacoma International airport.

Samson Hailegiorgis, who has been driving taxis for 17 years, says it is about taxi drivers having their voices heard.

"They are deciding on our future,” said Hailegiorgis.

"Airport taxi drivers are packing a port commission meeting to demand public oversight and union rights for taxi drivers,” said Joshua Welter with Teamsters Local 117.

Welter says it goes back to 2019 when an on-demand pilot program started at the airport.

"Drivers were optimistic three years ago about beginning a new chapter of collaboration with the port. Unfortunately, since that time the driver voice at work has largely been met with dismissal and I am sorry to say disdain,” Welter told Commissioners.

During the afternoon meeting, drivers' concerns were on display, everything from short trips and surcharge changes to the implementation of new technology.

"The virtual on-demand cue is the other issue that they had raised,” said Port Commissioner Hamdi Mohamed. "There needs to be an outreach and an educational process to introduce a new thing. A lot of them have anxiety over that change."

"We are committed to hearing them. We are committed to amplifying their voices and making sure that we get to a solution that works for them,” added Mohamed.

According to the Port of Seattle, in the months ahead there will be more outreach and opportunities for public comment about on-demand ground transportation at the airport.

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