Death By Gig Economy Is A Warning To All American Workers

New York City professional ‘black car’ driver was pushed to suicide by grinding economic pressures of unfair competition from Uber and Lyft services.


“It is too late for me so who is next? Maybe you and yours? Everyone needs to fix this now.”

(Editor’s Note: This is the final (2/5) Facebook post by New York City ‘black car’ driver Douglas Schfiter, who within hours of posting the commentary committed suicide in front of New York City Hall. The challenges of corporate abuse and political corruption he describes is not just true for taxi and livery drivers in the age of Uber but for millions more being pushed into the starvation wages of the no-benefits ‘gig’ economy of corporate convenience. His letter is a warning to all American workers. Time to unite. Time to resist. — Mark L. Taylor)

To those it may concern,

I have been financially ruined because three politicians destroyed my industry and livelihood and Corporate NY stole my services at rates far below fair levels. I worked 100-120 consecutive hours almost every week for the past fourteen plus years. When the industry started in 1981, I averaged 40-50 hours. I cannot survive any longer with working 120 hours! I am not a Slave and I refuse to be one.

Companies do not care how they abuse us just so the executives get their bonuses. They have not paid us fair rates for some time now. Due to the huge numbers of cars available with desperate drivers trying to feed their families they squeeze rates to below operating costs and force professionals like me out of business. They count their money and we are driven down into the streets we drive becoming homeless and hungry. I will not be a slave working for chump change. I would rather be dead.

Bloomberg, deBlasio and Andrew Cuomo have each had their part in destroying a once thriving industry. There are over 100,000 of us suffering daily now. It is the new slavery. The politicians flooded the streets with Black Cars and Taxis. I warned them four years ago in my Column in the Black Car News. I told them why it would destroy the industry, how it would destroy the industry and they kept doing it anyway ignoring everything and everybody. I warned of the impending collapse of the yellow medallions more than a year before it happened. No one stopped it. That old law was working and it was there to prevent exactly what Cuomo Allowed. The control of the numbers of taxi medallions was never supposed to return to the Mayor.

Bloomberg started everything by appealing to Albany to remove the law limiting taxis in NYC. It was in place for over one hundred years and worked! It was there for a reason. It took away control from local politicians. It limited competition so in bad times everyone still made a good living. Now there are too many feeding off the same pie and there is not enough for every one.

All that is needed now for a total disaster is a serious downturn in the economy reducing riders and there will be at least a half million people hit hard. Downturns always come. It is a certainty and a matter of time. History will repeat itself.

I know I am doing all I can the rest is up to you. Wake up and resist.

With 100,000 families and counting spouses and dependents and peripheral professionals and their families dependent on the drivers there must easily be a half million people that depend on income from this profession now. Bloomberg added 18,000 unneeded green cabs. That took more business away from Black and Yellow Cabs. He mandated a freeze on processing replacement Black Cars just as I had to replace mine. I was lucky, it only took only nine weeks to get mine done. I lost the entire busy season before Christmas. I had to buy and insure the vehicle before I could register it so I could also then license it. TLC would not process my application because they wanted their $75 inspection fee for a brand new car out of the showroom in addition to the state inspection already performed. I paid the loan and the insurance for more than two months before I saw any income. That cost between $20,000 and $30,000 and was a serious loss. I never recovered from the delay. My meager savings destroyed. I did manage to put something away but my financial cushion never developed. deBlasio stopped a traffic study on the impact of Uber. That would have revealed the true traffic impact of so many cars and shown the need to freeze car levels. There seems to be a strong bias by the Mayor and Governor in favor of Uber. A Company that is a known liar, cheat and thief. Cuomo allowed the removal of controls and allowed unlimited cars on the road. Cuomo also placed State Troopers in NYC to patrol and issue moving violations. This never happened before in my lifetime. He has turned the city into a police state.
We are being destroyed by our Government individually as well as an industry. When will they realize what they are doing to us? What does it take to bring us the attention we need to stop the Government?
Why is the Government destroying people’s lives? The Government is supposed to help the people not destroy them!
When will everybody awaken to the dangers?

I know I am doing all I can the rest is up to you. Wake up and resist!

As for our industry; there was always meant to be numbers of cars below the demand. That was the guarantee of a steady income.
Now the politicians have flooded the streets with unlimited cars and some 3000 new ones every month still coming. There is not enough work for everybody that pays a living. This is SLAVERY NOW.

They are destroying many thousands of families financially. I don’t know how else to try to make a difference other than a public display of a most private affair. No one listened to the warnings in my column or changed anything.

I am not a new driver and I was the most skilled and experienced driver to my knowledge in the business. I had almost 5 million miles experience, driven through five hurricanes and over 50 deep snow and blizzard conditions. I have driven over 100 world famous celebrities including Michael Bloomberg’s daughters and mother, the family of the man who destroyed me. A 44 year ultimate professional. I was a top chauffeur with the greatest limo company of all time. I was also a street legend in the industry over forty years ago. Passengers I never saw before told me about my reputation. More than a few saw incredible feats of driving. I didn’t just fall off the Turnip Truck. I was the best and did not deserve to be ruined by stupid greedy uncaring politicians.
I have no more health insurance and am not enjoying good health.
No more vehicle as my GM engine failed twice this year as well as the transmission.
No more income to pay bills and maxed out credit cards I cannot pay.
I will lose my house and everything else.
I see no point to continue trying.

What is happening to our Country where the Government now destroys the people? We are not a government of the People, by the People and for the People any more. We are turning into a Government of the People, by the Corporation for the Rich. People are becoming enslaved and destroyed by politicians and companies with the aid of the rich and the corporations they control. They are doing it by bypassing the Laws or manipulating them. America is being stolen. Your future and your families future is being stolen right now.

The whole purpose of life is to learn, teach and love.
To care for each other and better our souls but the people are being enslaved. This is against G-d. He is about love and freedom and unity of spirit. This effort to enslave the population working for less and less continuing to erode the good life we are supposed to have is going to destroy America. All the benefits are going to the wealthy and super wealthy few instead of the great mass of His Children (The People).

It is against all of our standards as Americans. Politicians are now destroying this Country and the people in it. This is partially because we allow legal bribery through campaign donations. The people are losing control of Government and Government is not supposed to hurt the People. The Republican party is doing most of the damage. Government has been corrupted by democrats too. It is nearly impossible to get fair treatment in New York City adjudication courts. Parking and moving violations are completely corrupted. So is the appeals process. Add an ambitious cop who is willing to lie a little and the system is a total shakedown process threatening your rights and happiness.
We are being shaken down by politicians who sell out to the biggest contributors to their greed and power. The Taxi Commission overburdens us with unending over-regulation and astronomical fines and hassles. They do not consider the impact of their actions or care.

We are on an increasing downward spiral toward loss of liberties and happiness. We are not doing enough to fight ignorance and hatred. We are not a great country if we cannot afford to care for those in need. We are not a great country if we allow Politicians to destroy lives. We are not a great country if we allow hatred of others because of where they were born or who they are.

Forget about great country….we are not even good people if we do not care for others in need. Most of the civilized world cares for their own except here where republicans who do not need more money to survive seek to get all they can get from companies and the rich and then take away all they can from the people.

Please do no harm to others. You will create equal problems for yourself. ( also paraphrasing the words of Christ). Karma is very real.

Remember Love is His greatest gift and you can take it with you and that Hatred is the path of evil. Promote love and squash hate.

I hope with the public sacrifice I make now that some attention to the plight of the drivers and the people will be done to save them and it will have not have been in vain and also that we must stop what is happening to Government while we still have one we can vote out. There is no choice. America is under attack by Russia. They do not need weapons. They bought their influence.

It is too late for me so who is next? Maybe you and yours? Everyone needs to fix this now.

Fight the Treasonous Republicans. Resist!
Government of all the People, by all the People and for all the People forever!

Douglas Schifter

Link to Story

  • NYC Taxi Driver Kills Himself At City Hall After Condemning Uber & Politicians For Financial Ruin — New York City taxi drivers held a vigil on Tuesday to honor livery car driver Douglas Schifter, who killed himself in front of City Hall Monday morning after writing a long Facebook post condemning local politicians and Wall Street-backed apps like Uber for pushing him into financial ruin. He wrote, “I worked 100-120 consecutive hours almost every week for the past fourteen plus years. When the industry started in 1981, I averaged 40-50 hours. I cannot survive any longer with working 120 hours! I am not a Slave and I refuse to be one. … There seems to be a strong bias by the Mayor and Governor in favor of Uber. A Company that is a known liar, cheat and thief.” Over the past five years, the number of for-hire cars has more than doubled in the city, largely thanks to Uber. But the soaring number of cars has resulted in a financial crisis for many longtime taxi drivers who now struggle to get customers. We speak to Bhairavi Desai, executive director and co-founder of the New York Taxi Workers Alliance, which represents over 19,000 taxi drivers in New York City. Link to Story and 19-Minute Video