Former Hunger Strikers Reflect On Their Experiences

The huelga de hambre has been used for thousands of years. It has won many struggles,” said Ana Ramirez, 42, who fasted for 24 days this spring to demand that undocumented people and other excluded workers in New York receive stimulus and unemployment money. “Esther the reina won a battle with the hunger strike.”

Ramirez is referring to Queen Esther of the Old Testament’s Book of Esther. The queen and her supporters fasted for three days in advance of going to ask her husband, Persian King Ahasuerus, for permission to have her enemies — who were trying to wipe out all Jews in the empire — killed. She prevailed. Mahatma Gandhi used the hunger strike. So too Cesar Chavez. South African political prisoners hastened the end of the apartheid era with their hunger strike.

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How NYC Taxi Drivers Took On Predatory Lenders And Won

On November 3, New York City reached an agreement with the New York Taxi Workers Alliance (NYTWA), the union fighting to relieve drivers of thousands of dollars in debt they owe for medallions, the physical permits to operate taxis. According to the NYTWA, the average debt owed on medallions by taxi drivers is $600,000.

“Today marks a new dawn, a new beginning for a workforce that has struggled through so much crisis and loss,” said Bhairavi Desai, Executive Director of NYTWA, in a statement. “Today, we can say owner-drivers have won real debt relief and can begin to get their lives back. Drivers will no longer be at risk of losing their homes, and no longer be held captive to debt beyond their lifetime.”

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What The NYC Taxi Drivers On A Hunger Strike Won

In early November, after 46 days of picketing and 15 days of hunger strike, members of the New York Taxi Workers Alliance won what they deserved all along: a measure of relief from the vast debts incurred when the inflated value of their city-issued medallions crashed in recent years. Under a three-way agreement among the NYTWA, the de Blasio administration, and the city’s largest medallion lender, drivers — who owe, on average, $550,000 each — will see their debt written down to $170,000 and amortized so that monthly payments don’t exceed $1,122. Most important, the city will guarantee each of these rescue loans in the event of default.

It was only fair that the city agree to back the loans

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