• Wed. Sep 21st, 2022

A group of New York taxi drivers head to Minnesota to protest an investment firm that holds hundreds of loans on taxi medallions

ByElla E. Kidwell

Mar 28, 2022

NEW YORK — A group of taxi drivers from New York were on their way to Minnesota on Sunday evening.

As CBS2’s Kiran Dhillon reported, the group hopes to lobby a company to join. the city’s debt relief program for taxi drivers.

More than a dozen taxi drivers gathered in Times Square to begin their journey.

“So that we can get our lives back and can support our families,” driver Wein Chin said.

They are heading to the town of Edina, outside of Minneapolis, to demonstrate outside the headquarters of investment firm O’Brien-Staley Partners, also known as OSP.

The New York Taxi Workers Alliance says the OSP holds about 300 loans on taxi medallions.

Sen. Chuck Schumer said the company refused to join the city’s debt relief program for taxi drivers.

“Why did the other 90% settle? Because they’re more likely to be reasonably reimbursed,” Schumer said.

In a letter to the company from Schumer, three members of the House of Representatives and other leaders, they demand “an immediate end to the abusive and predatory seizures and seizures of taxi medallions.”

“This one private equity firm still insists on seizing the drivers and selling the medallions through private sales and refuses to pay down the debts,” said Bhairavi Desai, executive director of the New York Taxi Workers Alliance. “It’s a 2,400 mile journey for a lifetime of justice because our members cannot stay in the level of debt they are drowning in.”

The city’s program, which includes $30,000 grants for lenders as well as a city-backed loan guarantee, came about after drivers went on a hunger strike in front of City Hall in the fallclaiming their loans were predatory and crippling.

Taxi driver Mohammad Shahidullah said he had a loan with OSP and his medallion was repossessed by a debt collector in January.

“They took my medallion, they took my plates, my speedometer, and the car is there and I put it away at my house,” Shahidullah said.

Medallion owners say they won’t give up until O’Brien-Staley Partners joins the city’s program.

Taxi drivers will reach Minnesota on Monday afternoon, where they will stage a 24-hour protest outside company headquarters.

CBS2 contacted O’Brien-Staley Partners and the firm’s attorney for comment, but did not immediately respond.

Schumer said O-Brien-Staley Partners did not formally respond to his letter.