AAFES stymied in effort to resolve Yongsan taxi dispute
Stars and Stripes May 30, 2008
SEOUL — The top AAFES official in Seoul said Wednesday the agency wants to hire a third taxi company to work at U.S. Army Garrison-Yongsan, but can’t find one that provides the same services as the largest on-base taxi company.
Drivers with that company, World Cup Arirang Tourism Co., have been on a partial strike over a salary dispute with its management since late April, sometimes not answering dispatches or not driving.
As of Wednesday, the drivers had been on full strike for eight days, and officials didn’t know how long it would last, said Shawn Dorcy, general manager for the Army and Air Force Exchange Service at Yongsan.
AAFES is "contractually applying pressure" on World Cup’s management to end the strike, he said.
"If we terminate the contract, there are issues like the [$3] flat-fee fare on Yongsan, English-speaking dispatch services, and the knowledge that the World Cup drivers have of the USAG-Yongsan footprint that we would be losing out on," Dorcy said. "Those are issues that most of the companies downtown are not used to dealing with, in the Korean economy."
He said AAFES has not told World Cup management that it’s looking for a third company.
World Cup drivers and union members met Tuesday, but Dorcy said he didn’t know the results of that meeting. Drivers began their full strike over concerns that World Cup’s Area I contract could be terminated, Dorcy said.
He declined to comment on World Cup’s contracts with AAFES in Areas I and II, and the provisions allowing AAFES to terminate them.
The second on-post taxi company, Yonhap Transportation, has 50 drivers working at Yongsan; Dorcy said officials are working to get installation access badges for another 10 drivers. Installations in Area I are also working to get base access for more drivers.
Dorcy said the biggest "choke point" is the Yongsan commissary, but lines at the Dragon Hill Lodge haven’t been as long as he expected.
"The real problem is when we have a weekend like we just had over the Memorial Day weekend," he said, when special events like the Pacific-wide softball tournament put extra demand on taxi drivers.
Arirang drivers went on strike for 13 days over pay disputes in 2006, slowing service at Area I and II bases to a crawl.
After the strike, drivers received $105 in one-time bonuses, far less than the $105 more per month they initially requested.
AAFES hired Yonhap Transportation last summer.