Industry Research Series: Taxis

Tim Palmer
Affiliated Organization: 
Democracy at Work Institute

The recent upsurge in worker cooperatives in the taxi industry presents a contrast between big opportunities and big risks. Hundreds of new worker owners have come together in just a handful of companies over the last 10 years, which outpaces the growth of worker cooperative ownership in many other industries. The coordinated marketing among what are already legally independent, entrepreneurially minded contractors lends itself to larger entities. Moreover, the structural changes in most local markets, as well as the highly exploitative nature of many fleet owners1 , have left many drivers unsatisfied and willing to explore new alternatives. However, those same forces that have made drivers open to cooperative experimentation also threaten to squeeze them out of the market whether or not they stay in conventional firms. The rise of ridesharing companies like Uber is a significant challenge to success in this industry. This is particularly true in the political and regulatory arena, where their large resources have given them an initial advantage in the fight to dismantle decades-old industry and driver protections.

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