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Taxi drivers call for investigation of Hospitality and Tourism Alliance

A union representing Charlotte’s taxicab drivers wants the city to seek an investigation of the Greater Charlotte Hospitality and Tourism Alliance by the FBI or the State Bureau of Investigation.

Randy Conrad, organizer for Teamsters Local 71, told the Charlotte Passenger Vehicles for Hire Board today that cab company owners have been “shook down for money” and extorted by the HTA in exchange for driver positions at the Charlotte/Douglas International Airport.

Conrad said he is surprised that “with all the reports in the newspaper and on the TV that no investigation has been called by the FBI of SBI. I’m asking now that you ask for that investigation or to recommend to City Council for an investigation be called.”

Conrad said the issues were brought to the attention of the PVFHB a year ago, but “nobody has listened.”

He said it would be better for an investigation to begin now prior to the Democratic National Convention in 2012 because “this doesn’t need to be a topic for the estimated 15,000 media then to report on.”

The board took no action on the request to call for an investigation and did not discuss the request during the meeting.

Conrad and other cab drivers also told the board today that seven drivers from Yellow Cab were fired Monday and given no reason for their dismissal. Conrad and the other drivers requested that the board investigate the firing.

Yellow Cab representative John Walsh, who attended the meeting, declined to comment after the meeting.

Board Chairman Jonathan Fine told the more than 35 cab drivers in attendance that the board has no jurisdiction over the matter.

He said the board cannot investigate employment issues and cannot change a new airport system restricting the number of drivers and companies allowed to service the airport.

Tara Ramsey can be reached at tara.ramsey@mecktimes.com.

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