NYC Taxi Cab Medallion (Danielle Lupkin, via Wikimedia Commons)

Following a two-week hunger strike by a dozen cab drivers, the New York Taxi Workers Alliance (NYTWA), New York City, and Marblegate Asset Management (Marblegate) have announced an agreement that supposedly will substantially ameliorate the crushing debt burden suffered by many of the city’s approximately 6,000 medallion taxi owner-drivers. There is no doubting the bravery and determination of the hunger strikers, who for two weeks risked their health and lives to protest the gross injustice done to them and thousands of other cab drivers. However, their sacrifice has not led to a true resolution of their claims.

In reality, the changes to the city’s original debt relief scheme, proposed last March, will leave the drivers deeply in debt for the rest of their lives. Despite the NYTWA’s triumphal claims, this revised agreement falls far short of even the union’s own, already inadequate proposal. As previously described by the World Socialist Web Site, thousands of individual New York City cab owner-drivers were swindled into taking out hundreds of thousands of dollars in loans to purchase taxi medallions.

In what amounted to gigantic Ponzi scheme, the price of the medallions required by the city to allow cabs to pick up passengers who hail them on the street was massively inflated. It rose from $200,000 in 2002 to over a million dollars each over the next decade. This took place through the combined…

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