NYC Taxi Drivers protest by following ALL traffic laws... Really happened, or UL?

I was repeating this story to a co-worker today and suddenly realized I had no cite. Nor did a quick Google search turn up anything resembling one. Hmm. Have I been propagating an Urban Legend? (Which I’m happy to do in the right context, but only if I do so knowingly!)

Here’s the Way I Heard It: every so often, the taxi drivers in NYC go on strike (or threaten to do so) over some new law or regulation, such as requiring them to accept credit cards, or a new flat rate from anywhere in Manhattan to the two airports in town (JFK and LGA). One time, upset about a non-fare-hike in a time of rising costs, they protested not by going on strike but by taking a page from the “slowdown strike” tactics used by some unions, wreaking havoc on the city’s traffic patterns by observing all traffic rules to the letter. A day of gridlock and frustrated taxi hailers ensued.

If someone hailed them from the curb while they were one lane over, they didn’t cut across to pick them up even if the the street was empty. The speed limit was strictly observed, even shaved by 5 MPH to ensure a faulty speedometer wouldn’t inadvertently result in a violation. If a traffic light turned yellow, they stopped rather than risk running a red light. If pedestrians were walking across an intersection against the light, they didn’t nose into the crowds to force their way through, but patiently waited for the good people of New York to stop their walking and let them pass.

Has this ever actually happened?

I haven’t heard that, but I do remember reading somewhere that the New York City police department once threatened to enforce every traffic law in an effort to get something they wanted accomplished. I recall the news article specifically mentioning that enforcing the “no double parking” law would effectively prohibit truck deliveries (say, making food deliveries to restaurants) inside Manhattan.

That’s what I recall, but then these days I recall a lot of things that never happened.

Either Manhattan Beach or Hermosa Beach **CA **police dept tried this in the early 1970’s. Didn;t work.

I don’t know if it’s been used by taxi drivers, but this kind of industrial action has been tried by other union workers. It’s called ‘work to rule’.

It’s a common tactic for teachers because they always are working above and beyond the call of duty.

A call to Aussie Dopers on this. Work to rule is quite common Down Under.

Seems like I may have conflated the NYPD threat to “work to rule” with some other threat made by the taxi drivers of NYC. It may not have happened… But it COULD have happened, and would probably have that effect.

As the saying used to go on the long-bygone alt.folklore.urban: “It COULD have happened, so it MUST have happened…” :slight_smile:

I remember hearing this sort of thing being called a “white mutiny” in the military (he cited Wikipedia article includes the term “white strike”).

The idea was you do exactly what the commanding officer tells you with no effort to interpret orders for logic or the spirit of what he wants you to do. An officer telling someone to, “just throw that in the corner” would be inviting trouble.

[Very, very mild] story on that, told to me to you. The Skipper (captain) was an ornery sort, who got very upset when his trash wasn’t taken out one morning. He chews out a First Class about this. First Class has been in since Moses was a seaman; too damn long for this bullshit. So he grabs some seaman and they go into Skipper’s office, take the trash and replace the can liner. Every fifteen minutes for the rest of the day. Skipper can’t get a damn thing done all day, so he blows up. “Well, Sir, you said…” The lesson? You have to train the leadership.

NYC Taxi drivers have gone on strike. The total work stoppage kind of strike. It actually made the city more pleasant.

Yes, if you’re not trying to hail a cab anyway. That’s why a “slowdown” type of strike would be much more noticeable, in many ways.

I’m reminded of a scene in the movie Car Wash where the boss changes the radio station from soul music to classical. The entire crew began working in slow motion. He soon changed it back. Man, I love that movie.

It never happened. It may have been threatened but it never happened. There have been rallies and protests aplenty but never as quoted above.

Here’s another example of “public obedience to prove a point” - students in Atlanta driving the posted speed limit on the highway.

Its different from Work to rule, its actually a rule book slowdown.