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Wisconsin State Journal

Jan. 23, 1975

Other TV

            8 p.m. —Mondo Video (Cable 4): Subjects are the Atwood Bypass, the unionization at Yellow Cab, and the Menominee repossession at Gresham.


Wisconsin State Journal

March 9, 1975

Gasoline Costs, Higher Rates, Fewer

Riders Put Squeeze on Cab Firms


Of the State Journal Staff

            Madison’s taxi cab companies find themselves squeezed two ways by inflation — neither of them good.

            The high cost of gasoline and automobile parts forces them either to cut profits or raise fares.

            But, as cab riders look at their own budgets in an inflationary time, they think twice about taking a taxi —and higher fares can do little but exacerbate those second thoughts.

            “Ridership is down, and the cost of gas is killing us,” Kenneth C. Ossmann, president of the Yellow Cab Co., explained.

            “We’re running an average of about 25 of our 40 cabs a day,” he continued. “Last year at this time, we were running between 36 and 38 of them.”

            Harold H. Burgdorff, manager of the Badger Cab Co., said ridership on his 26 cabs is up, but the price of gasoline is frightening.

            “I have a feeling there aren’t as many two-car families as there once were,” Burgdorff suggested. “Our ridership is up over last winter, but the price of a transport load of gasoline is just double what we paid in June, 1973.” Checker Cabs are hauling fewer residential passengers but more transients who ride from the airport or the bus station downtown, according to John Desnoyers, manager.

            “You won’t notice the downswing much on people who have expense accounts, but our residential business is down,” he said.

            He said the fact gasoline hasn’t increased in price for the past couple of months has helped, “but we’re worried about what will happen when they put on tariffs.”

            The one company in town not corporately affected by the price of gasoline is the Red Cab Co., which rents its cabs to drivers who purchase their own gasoline.

            “The cost of parts has gone up considerably, though,” Lowell Teasberg, manager, said.

            “I don’t think we’ll see any noticeable difference in passengers until this summer. When it’s this cold, people would rather ride than walk, but when the leaves come out, we may find a different situation.”

            Most of the cab companies have been forced to raise their rates because of inflation.

            Ossmann said a Yellow Cab passenger pays 80 cents for getting the cab and 10 cents for each fifth mile. “We’ve raised our rates about as far as we can go in the present economy,” he said. “But our costs keep going up, and there’s no way we can pass them on to the public, and there’s no way we can absorb them. We’re in a squeeze.”

            Badger Cabs charge 65 cents for the first zone — up 10 cents —and 15 cents for each additional zone.

            “We still have the lowest rate in the United States, we think, but, when they talk of raising gasoline anywhere from 10 cents to 40 cents a gallon, I don’t know what we’ll do,” Burgdorff said.

            Ossmann also noted that cabs are considered mass transit and often are the only form of transportation available to elderly persons who cannot walk to a bus stop.

            “We get a lot of calls from those apartments behind Hilldale from people who want to go to Hilldale,” he said.

            “It’s only a couple of blocks, but we’re the only transportation they have.

            “Yet, unless something is done, when they put in the State St. Mall, buses will be able to drive down it, and we won’t.”


Capital Times

March 31, 1975

Cabbies Take Strike Vote

            The labor contract between the Yellow Cab Co. and Teamsters Local 695, representing cab drivers and other employes, expires tonight and union members will take a strike vote if no last minute settlement is reached.

            Several rounds of bargaining have failed to produce a new contract and drivers are reportedly ready to launch what would be the first strike at the company since the union was formed in late 1973.


Capital Times

April 1, 1975

Yellow Cab Strike May Be Long One

By John Haug

            Unlike the strike a year ago that lasted one day, a strike that began at midnight today against the Yellow Cab Co., 627E. Mifflin St., is shaping up as a possibly long drawn-out affair.

            No new bargaining sessions have been scheduled, and company owner Kenneth Ossmann said this morning he will place ads in local media to try to hire replacements for the strikers. Meanwhile, a spokesman for about a dozen employes marching on a picket line this morning said the Teamsters Union, bargaining agent for the employes, is behind the strike “100 per cent.”

            Teamsters Local 895 has been criticized by some members for not supporting strikes while under international trusteeship.

            The trusteeship ended in January when members elected a new slate of officers, including former trustee Robert Rutland as secretary-treasurer. Rutland has been helping man the union picket line and reportedly will march again this afternoon.

            Company and union spokesmen differ on their interpretation of the issues, with the company focusing on economic matters and the union stressing working conditions. "We’re pleading poverty,” Ossmann said as he answered telephone calls in the dispatcher’s office. “We’re in trouble financially, like everyone else during these times, and we can’t afford a wage package.”

            Ossmann substantiated union claims that the company’s offers have included elimination of company health insurance payments, a decrease in the amount of money on which a driver’s commission is based, and a plan to have drivers lease their cabs as independent contractors.

            The union calls economics “a phony issue” for the company, but says money is secondary. It is concentrating on contract language, including grievance and arbitration procedures and job security.

            A union spokesman said the company is proposing to change the present job security language, that includes a warning notice in most cases, with a “just cause” provision and no warning notice.

            The union has also proposed a closed shop, which the company has agreed to accept provided the union accepts the wage cut, a reduction in vacations and an end to the health insurance payments.

            Dawn Lovell, business administrator and one of the company’s bargainers, said the strike this morning “was a surprise.” The two sides met last Friday and Lovell said she thought progress had been made.

            She said the company would file charges against the union for breeching a contract provision calling for a five-day notice before a strike.

            “Ultimately it’s the customers who are the ones to be hurt by this,” Lovell stated. She said over 60 per cent of the firm’s business comes from elderly and handicapped citizens.

            Yellow is transferring all its customers to Checker and Badger Cab companies which have agreed to accept them.


Wisconsin State Journal

April 1, 1975

50 Yellow Cab Drivers on Strike

by Leila Pine of the State Journal Staff

            About 50 cab drivers for the Yellow Cab Co., 627 E. Mifflin St., went on strike at 12:01 a.m. today as their one-year contract with the company expired.

            Victor Wightman, an employe with the company, said there has been no progress in contract negotiations, which began in early January between the company and Teamsters Local 695.

            Yellow Cab drivers staged a two-day strike last year before settling on a contract.

            “The last and final offer by the company would cut our wages, our health insurance and vacation pay,” Wightman said. “It was not merely a question of no progress, but of regression from what we won last year.”

            Kenneth Ossmann, company owner, said late Monday night that he proposed the pay cuts “because we plead poverty. There is no money to offer anymore.”

            Ossmann said the strike is a breach of contract because employes must give him five days notice before striking.

            “We’re going to file charges with the National Labor Relations Board, the Wisconsin Employment Relations Commission, and anywhere else we can to fight the union,” Ossmann said.

            Wightman said the employes realize there is little money in the taxi business right now, but were willing to go without raises if they could make progress in job security, layoffs by seniority and grievance and discharge procedures.

            “But the company has been fighting us on those issues too,” he said.

            Ossmann said he thought there “very definitely was progress in negotiations,” until Monday night.

            Robert Rutland, secretary-treasurer of Local 695, who joined strikers on the picket line at midnight, said the Teamsters were supporting the strike “100 per cent.”

            “We have no intention of disrupting the public in any way,” Rutland said. “The is- sues here are wages and contract language.”

            About 50 of the estimated 80 employes at Yellow Cab are Teamster members, although all pay “fair share” fees for union benefits, Wightman said. Rutland said some non-member employes may continue to work, but “I look for major support from everyone.”

            Ossmann said no decision had been made yet at midnight Monday on how to handle calls from riders.

            But the dispatcher on duty at the time said he planned to join the picket line.


Wisconsin State Journal

April 2, 1975

Striking Drivers Continue Picketing

            Yellow Cab drivers spent their second night on the picket line Tuesday with no apparent end in sight to the strike.

            Dawn Lovell, business administrator for the company, said customer calls are being referred to the Checker and Badger Cab companies.

            “We’ve had no cabs out tonight, but we expect to have a few out tomorrow,” she said.

            Thali Honeycutt, a dispatcher at Checker, said business has doubled since the Yellow Cab strike began at midnight Monday.

            “We’re trying to get people to work extra hours, and in some cases customers have had to wait longer than usual for a cab,” she said.

            The dispatcher at Badger Cab also reported “a fair increase in business,” although not enough to extend drivers’ hours.

            The one-year contract between the Yellow Cab Co. and the Teamsters Local 695 expired at midnight Monday.


Capital Times

April 3, 1975

Police Called 4 Times To Cab Picket Line

            The Teamsters strike against Yellow Cab Co., 627 E. Mifflin St., moved into its third day today with reports that police were called to the picket line several times in the past two days.

            A spokesman for the Madison Police Department said officers responded to three calls this morning and one Wednesday. There has been no violence and no arrests, the spokesman said.

            Company spokesmen had “no comment” this morning about the nature of the calls, but a union spokesman said the police have been escorting potential job applicants across the lines.

            Yellow has advertised for drivers and dispatchers in the local newspapers and on radio and there have been several inquiries. Two or three Yellow cabs are reportedly on the streets.

            Union representatives said today they arc concerned more with the quality of recent job applicants than the quantity.

            Many have no training or experience, and some had worked for Yellow before but had been fired, they said. Company officials had no comment on these allegations.


Capital Times

April 4, 1975

Yellow Cab Strike: ‘No Progress’

            The strike against Yellow Cab Co., 627 E. Mifflin St., moved into its fourth day today with what is traditionally one of the busiest days for cab companies approaching Sunday.

            Thousands of UW students will be returning to Madison from spring vacation aboard busses and planes. The strikers say they will be on hand to ask the students not to take Yellow Cabs.

            Meanwhile, picketing continued this morning in front of the company office. Strikers reported no Yellow Cabs on the streets as of late this morning. There have been two or three cabs operating in the past three days, they said.

            The strikers confirmed reports that they have been following cabs driven by replacements and offering free rides to customers.

            However, they said they first ask the customer not to ride in a Yellow Cab. Then if the customer needs a ride they will provide it. They have not been soliciting free rides, they said.

            Police have been called to the picket line several times since the strike began, usually to tell the pickets to keep their line moving and not block traffic in and out of the company parking lot.

            As of noon today there have been no arrests or no serious incidents, a police spokesman stated. However, he said the tire of a Yellow Cab was slashed at the airport earlier this morning,

            About 85 employes are on strike, and approximately 50 of these belong to Teamsters Local 695. They walked off their jobs at midnight Monday, the expiration date of their previous one-year contract.

            Kenneth Ossmann, the cab company owner, is referring all inquiries about the strike to his attorney Robert Kilkelly, who was unavailable for comment this morning.


Wisconsin State Journal

April 4, 1975

Cab Strikers Offer Rides

            Striking Yellow Cab Co. taxi drivers are offering free rides to people about ready to use a Yellow Cab driven by replacements.

            The drivers, who walked off their jobs Tuesday, are following the taxis and asking potential customers if they would like a no charge ride to their destinations, according to union members.

            The 50 striking drivers are represented by Teamsters Local 695. They went on strike when their one-year contract expired.

            Kenneth Ossmann, the cab company owner, said Wednesday he was recruiting replacement drivers through radio and newspaper ads. Three cabs were operating Thursday.

            Robert Rutland, secretary-treasurer of the Teamsters local, said Thursday there were no new developments in the strike, and said he felt the walk-off was “very effective.”

            Ossmann could not be reached for comment.


Wisconsin State Journal

April 5, 1975

Yellow Cab Firm Near Halt

by Leila Pine of the State Journal Staff

            Operations at the Yellow Cab Co. appeared to be near a standstill Friday as a strike by the company’s 50 taxi drivers entered its fourth day.

            Kenneth Ossmann, owner of the company, refused comment, but one striker estimated the company is losing about $2,500 in gross revenues each day of the strike.

            No cabs were operating until about 10 a.m., when three cabs driven by replacement employes hired by the company first backed out of the Yellow Cab driveway past pickets, strikers said.

            The company called the Madison Police Dept., complaining that pickets were blocking the cabs in the driveway, but police on the scene reported no trouble.

            “No bona-fide employes are driving the cabs,” said John August, a striker. “The strike has 100 per cent support from all the employes and from Teamsters Local 695.”

            Union members have been following replacement drivers on their calls and asking potential customers not to break the strike. When passengers are especially inconvenienced and in a hurry, the strikers have given them free rides to their destination, they said.

            The strike began at midnight Monday when the Teamsters’ contract with Yellow Cab expired and no new settlement was in sight. The union has said it would accept the wage cuts proposed by the company if it were given acceptable grievance procedures and job security.

            Union members say Ossmann has proposed cuts in wages, vacation pay, and insurance benefits and elimination of grievance procedures, including any notice to the employe warning him of a layoff or giving reasons for dismissal.

            Ossmann said Monday he proposed the wage cuts because he is “pleading poverty.” He has refused to comment further, referring all questions to his attorney, Robert Kilkelly, who has been unavailable for comment Thursday and Friday.


Capital Times

April 7, 1975

No Real Progress in Week-Old Cab Strike

            Several new developments but no real progress was the report today from both parties involved in the week-old strike at Yellow Cab Co., 627 E. Mifflin St.

            According to both sides, a member of the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service in Milwaukee has offered his services, but no new bargaining sessions have been scheduled.

            Meanwhile, a member of the City Council said today she will introduce a resolution at Tuesday’s City Council meeting asking the transportation commission to determine if Yellow Cab is fulfilling its license requirements.

            Carol Wuennenberg, in whose 4th District the company is located, said city licensing ordinances require Yellow to provide around-the-clock service with a certain percentage of cabs available day and night.

            Since the strike began last Tuesday, picketing members of Teamsters Local 695 have successfully kept the number of Yellow Cabs on the street to about three at any given time.

            Wuennenberg, who says she received many complaints of poor service over the weekend, said she also questioned Yellow’s policy of sending customers to other cab companies.

            “The liabilities involved upset me,” she said. “They are not telling customers to call another company. They are calling for them. I question whether this is not providing service to another company under Yellow’s license?”

            John August, a spokesman for the union, said he felt picketing at the company has been successful. August estimated the company lost about $3,000 by not having any cabs on the street Sunday as University of Wisconsin students returned from spring vacations.

            Attorney Robert Kilkelly said the company was continuing to hire replacements for the strikers, and that the response to help wanted ads in the newspapers and on radio had been “fairly successful.”


Capital Times

April 9, 1975

Yellow Cab Co. Sues Strikers for Violence

            The Yellow Cab and Transfer Co. of Madison filed suit in Dane County Circuit Court today, seeking a temporary restraining order and a permanent injunction against alleged acts of violence by its striking cab drivers.

            Named as defendants are Local 695, Madison Teamsters Union; Robert Rutland, secretary-treasurer of the local, and 10 drivers now participating in the walkout.

            The strikers are alleged to have “roughed up” non-striking employes when they sought to drive cabs, to have “spit at and cursed” non-strikers and others seeking their jobs, to have followed cabs and rammed them, with other vehicles, to have blockaded cabs with other cars and to have damaged the tires of non-striking employes’ private vehicles. Approximately 80 employes are participating in the strike which began April 1.

            Judge Richard Bardwell, to whom the case was assigned, has not yet set a date for a hearing. The company, is represented by Robert Kilkeliy. Kenneth C. Ossman, president of the firm, signed the petition.


Wisconsin State Journal

April 9, 1975

Charges Filed Against Yellow Cab Strikers

            The attorney for Yellow Cab Co., whose employes have been on strike for the past week, said he filed charges against Teamsters Local 695 Tuesday for intimidating replacement employes who have crossed picket lines.

            Robert Kilkelly said he filed charges with the National Labor Relations Board Tuesday and will seek a Circuit Court injunction against “union intimidation” sometime this week.

            David Shipley, a business representative for the local, said the charges are false. "We are conducting a peaceful picket at Yellow Cab and we don’t condone violence,” Shipley said. “We’re convinced at this stage that the company is set for a long siege and is making an effort to bust the union.”

            Kilkelly said he was considering seeking an injunction that would also limit the number of pickets allowed in front of the Yellow Cab office, 627 E. Mifflin St. "There have been numerous instances of unlawful intimidation, but I can’t enumerate them now,” Kilkelly said.

            Shipley said the company has made no effort to contact the union for further bargaining, but the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service is trying to set up a mediation session.

            The weeklong strike started Apr. 1 when the union contract expired.

Capital Times

April 11, 1975

Action At Standstill In Yellow Cab Strike

            Charges that Teamsters Local 695 refused to meet with a federal mediator in connection with a strike at Yellow Cab Co., 627 E. Mifflin St., were denied today by union officials.

            Robert Kilkelly, attorney for the cab company, said a meeting between the two parties and a representative of the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service was tentatively set for today, but the union balked.

            Meanwhile, a hearing on an injunction sought by the company has been set for 9:30 a.m. Monday before Dane County Circuit Judge William Bardwell.

            The company is seeking to stop alleged illegal union picket line activities, including charges of intimidating prospective replacement drivers and blocking passengers from taking cabs. Charges of refusing to meet with a mediator were denied this morning by Robert Rutland, secretary-treasurer of Local 695.

            “It’s not a case of our refusing to meet,” Rutland stated. “The mediator tried to set up this meeting on his own. He was not requested by the company.”

            Rutland said the union was asked Thursday by the mediator for a meeting this morning. The Teamsters turned down today’s meeting, but are willing to meet another time, Rutland said.

            “We were just served the injunction notice Thursday,” Rutland stated. “We’re not going to mediate anything with charges hanging over us. We’ll take one thing at a time.”

            Picketing at the company’s offices continued this morning. Kilkelly said the company was continuing to hire replacements, but admitted there had been no attempt to put cabs on the street this week.

            He said the company would probably not attempt to put cabs on the street until after the court hearing, and that it wanted to wait until it had a sufficient number available so as to “disperse” the pickets who have been following the cabs and offering customers free rides.

Capital Times

April 14, 1975

Other TV

            6:30 p.m. — Mondo Video (Cable 4): Features tonight are the Yellow Cab strike, sections from the Public Service Commission hearing at Wil-Mar, and highlights from a speech by Ralph Nader.

            7 p.m. —Baseball (15): Cincinnati Reds at Los Angeles Dodgers.

Capital Times

April 17, 1975

Cab Co., Union To Negotiate

            A bargaining session between Teamsters Local 695 and representatives of Yellow Cab Company has been tentatively set for Friday morning, an attorney for the company said today.

            Drivers and dispatchers, mostly union members, have been on strike against the firm for two weeks. The two sides have not met since the company made its last offer March 28.

            Atty. Robert Kilkelly said tentative plans for the negotiation session were made this morning. The session was requested by the company. The time and place of the meetings have yet to be arranged.

            Kilkelly said the company wants to “find out the union’s position” since it has never responded to the company’s last offer.

Wisconsin State Journal

April 20, 1975

Cab Mediation Is Scheduled

            Representatives from the Yellow Cab Co. and from its 50 taxi drivers who have been on strike since Apr. 1 will meet with a state labor mediator this week.

            Ally. Robert Kilkelly, who represents the company, said Saturday the two sides will meet with a mediator of the Wisconsin Employment Relations Commission Tuesday or Wednesday at Teamsters Union Local 695, 1314 N. Stoughton Road.

            Kilkelly said no Yellow cabs are presently on the road. “The company opted to stop operations to prevent injury,” he said.

            He had earlier filed charges against the local for intimidating replacement employes who had crossed picket lines at the company office, 627 E. Mifflin St.


Capital Times

April 22, 1975

No Progress In Yellow Cab Strike Talks

            Union officials reported “no progress” this morning following a mediation session with representatives of Yellow Cab Co. and Howard Bellman of the Wisconsin Employment Relations Commission.

            “We lowered our demands in economics and the company responded by still insisting on a pay reduction,” said Robert Rutland, secretary-treasurer of Teamsters Local 695.

            The union lowered its demand for drivers’ commissions from 50 per cent to 44 per cent. The company continued its proposal to lower the commission rate from the current 40 per cent, Rutland said. Drivers and dispatchers, mostly members of the Teamsters, have been on strike against the firm since April 1. “The strike will definitely continue,” Rutland said following today’s meeting.

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