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Ronald Blount of the Philadelphia Taxi Alliance calls on the Democratic Party to join the fight for living wages, affordable housing, and good education

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JAISAL NOOR: Airport workers and taxi drivers have announced plans to strike in Philadelphia during the upcoming Democratic National Convention.  Even though major unions have all promised a labor peace, hundreds of workers including Ronald Blount, President of Unified Taxi Workers Alliance is planning to send the DNC a strong message: RONALD BLOUNT: They’re not addressing what the Democratic Party stands for in this country. It’s like it’s all show, it’s all hype for the big hoopla. Everybody’s just cheering and all of this stuff. But segments of people are being left behind and there’s no one talking about it. NOOR: Blount says the Democratic Party’s Platform Committee adopted a $15 minimum wage is not enough to address the plight of working class Americans. BLOUNT: They talk about the fight for fifteen but there is other issues. Education, housing, healthcare. There’s so many issues where people are struggling. There’s actually a surplus of labor in this country and how are you going to address that? How do you get these people back so they can survive, so they can have some sort of quality of life? NOOR: Blount wants the tens of thousands of expected visitors to Philadelphia to see beyond the hype and gain understanding of the struggle facing everyday residents, he says. BLOUNT: This is the real Philadelphia. You know, you come in here for a party but there’s a lot of chaos here. A lot of people suffering and we want to show you that people aren’t happy. NOOR: He says he’s not worried about upsetting the powerful interests behind the DNC. Workers who say they are going to strike have worked with SEIU- which has close ties to the Democratic Party and said they are not going to strike themselves. BLOUNT: To be honest like we’re being hurried regardless. We tried to work with everyone. We say that we would restrain and let the process work and everything that we try legally, every rule that we followed, it was done. It was countered with a backdoor deal. NOOR: Phone calls and emails to SEIU officers in Philadelphia, the Democratic National Convention press team as well as the ride sharing services Uber that the taxi drivers are in a prolonged conflict with went unanswered at the time of production. BLOUNT: We’re working with the legislatures on a good bill. Until they slip something into the budget. They make an agreement; we go in front of the court. The court agrees with us that the agreement is illegal. I mean everything that we’ve done, it’s been countered. And no one from the Democratic Party, no one from big labor, no one has really came to the aid that the Uber sent us the following statement: “We thank the leadership of the General Assembly for taking action to support ridesharing in Philadelphia. The legislation passed today will help ease transportation challenges in Philadelphia this summer, including during the DNC” NOOR: Stay tuned to The Real for our ongoing coverage from Cleveland and Philadelphia of the major party conventions. This is Jaisal Noor


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