WARARKA BARAAWEPOST Friday 25 december 2009
Somali immigrants: face of local taxi industry
By Leslie Berestein, UNION-TRIBUNE STAFF WRITER
A few days after about 300
“It is the easiest thing to do when you come from another country, and you know how to drive,” said Hakeem Kalif, 40, who arrived from
The cabbies follow in a long-established tradition, the immigrant social hiring network, an informal system of referrals and recruiting that has existed for as long as immigrants have been landing on these shores.
Just as social networks help determine where new arrivals to the United States settle, they also help determine the jobs they get, with established immigrants helping arriving family members and friends find work.
The end result is one ethnic group heavily represented in a particular industry: for example, Mexican immigrants in construction, Iraqi Chaldean immigrants operating liquor and convenience stores, Korean immigrants operating small grocery stores, Vietnamese immigrants in the nail-salon industry.
“A brings in B, B brings in C, and C brings in D until finally, you’ve got A through Z,” said Ivan Light, a professor emeritus of sociology at UCLA and co-author of “Ethnic Economies,” a book that examines ethnic-dominated industries. “You don’t own the business, but you control access to it, and it becomes a valuable economic resource for the community in the sense that you get to certain point, and you control access to the jobs.”
The same can happen in a corporate environment, Light said, recalling a tour of a Los Angeles bank several years ago during which the manager pointed out to him that on one floor, most of the workers were Cuban. The immigrant employees had such a strong social network that they themselves took care of finding applicants when there was a vacancy.
“As soon as one Cuban left, they recruited another,” Light said. “The bank was happy with it because the Cubans were good workers, and the Cubans were happy with it because they could find jobs.”
Driving a taxi has become a common occupation for Somali immigrants and other East Africans, not only in
Most of the local Somali cabbies say they were referred to the job by word-of-mouth. Ahmed Syaed, a driver and strike organizer who sits on the board of a Somali taxi drivers association, said the cabbies — who typically work 12-hour shifts, sharing a car with another driver — enjoy the flexibility the job gives them to find a few hours here and there for college or trade classes, or to study English. Many also have families.
“It is important for us to have such a flexible job,” Syaed said last weekend during a meeting at the East African Community and
Bob Montgomery, director of the International Rescue Committee in
“Especially with East Africans, the 9-to-5 work schedule is something new to them — not to all of them, but to a lot of them,” said Montgomery, whose office helped settle the bulk of Somali refugees in the area. Immigrants from
Until the 1970s, it was much more common to see native-born
According to Schaller’s research, which was based on U.S. Census data, only 8 percent of the nation’s taxi and limousine drivers in 1970 were immigrants. By 2000, that had risen to 38 percent, one of the highest proportions of immigrant workers of any occupation in the country.
Some immigrant drivers see their job as a steppingstone as they study or learn English, Schaller said. Some have stayed in the industry but have gone on to buy their own taxis or even a fleet; in
The striking cabbies are at odds with owners affiliated with Yellow Cab over lease rates that they say are too high in comparison to their recession-battered earnings. But when the money is good, it’s not a bad job to have, Schaller said.
“Some will be driving a cab for a long time to come,” he said. “But they are very, very proud of their sons and daughters who are going to Harvard or MIT.”Leslie Berestein: (619) 542-4579; email@example.com
Source : signonsandiego
Source : signonsandiego
Shabakadda warbaahinta ee Baraawepost Muqdisho Somalia firstname.lastname@example.org