2009-06-05 / Top Stories

Drivers Walk In Car Service Dispute

Flat Rate Or Percentage At Issue
By Howard Schwach

A group of drivers for the Number One Transportation Company, known on the street as "The Ones" because its telephone number is 471-1111, walked off the job on Monday when the owners of the company demanded a much larger chunk of the money they earn each week.

In fact, drivers told The Wave, they would be earning about two dollars an hour under the pay-fordrive plan demanded by the owners.

"It's a tough life, driving for a car service," said Jeffrey Spears, one of the drivers who refused to take his shift on Monday or Tuesday. "We used to pay [the owners] $250 for the week. We also have to pay about $400 for rental of the car and our own fuel costs. That doesn't leave much for profit."

Spears and Ronald Modste, who came to The Wave office, told a story of long hours, poor pay and lack of respect.

"Spears said that the owners told the company's 15 drivers on Monday that they would have to start kicking in 25 percent of what they earned instead of the flat $250 a week.

Spears pointed out that the new rules would leave them considerably less in profit.

"Let's say I take in a few hundred a shift," Spears pointed out. Under the flat rate, I could make that up in a shift or two. Now, if I take in more than a thousand dollars a week, I would end up owing much more money."

When drivers complained, they say, the owners told them to "take it or leave it."

The owners reportedly indicated to the drivers that new personnel would have to split their earnings 55-45 percent with the owners.

Drivers also have to tip the company dispatchers about $100 a week, the two said.

"If you don't tip the dispatchers, you don't get any fares," Modste said.

He said that a driver working 80 hours a week, what he calls a "typical work load," would come home with about $400 for the week, which comes out to about $2 an hour, he said.

For that, Spears said, they get no pay stub, no receipts for the money they turn in.

"This is an all-cash business," he said. "We would like to get some documentation of what we take in and what we turn over to the owners - what we earn."

A call to the owners for comment elicited only a voice mail and music that went on and on. The call was never picked up.

The drivers say they only want to negotiate the problem with the owners, but that they will not even acknowledge the problem.

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