The former Yellow Cab Company had been a subsidiary of the Westgate Corporation, which filed for bankruptcy in 1976 and ceased operations. After long negotiations with the Federal Bankruptcy Court in San Diego a group of cab drivers, mechanics, dispatchers and other local investors who had organized into a Cooperative successfully concluded an agreement with the Court to purchase the San Francisco Yellow Cab Company.
The Cooperative was formed with the objective of putting the former employees of the bankrupt company back to work and the taxis back on the road. Each of the prospective members put in $5,000 to create a fund sufficient for a down payment. Most Co-op members were taxi drivers who had previously worked for the former Yellow Cab Company.
When Co-op operations started on November 8, 1977 Yellow Cab Cooperative, Inc. had already been in existence for several months. A Board of Directors was in existence, officers had been elected, bylaws adopted, a manager hired and legal representations retained. While many start-up problems were still to be addressed the basic structure of the Co-op was already formed. There are two firm rules that define the Co-op: each Co-op member has only one vote and no proxy voting is allowed. Thirteen directors, elected to two-year terms set the policies of the Co-op. Currently 9 directors are active cab drivers and the remaining 4 have full time management duties.
Today Yellow Cab Co-op is a completely independent, locally owned operation in San Francisco. The wonderful diversity of San Francisco is represented by the members of the Co-op. Women, gay and minority shareholders comprise about 50% of the membership. Day-to-day operations are conducted by a contracted manager who has full authority to hire, dismiss and discipline employees and purchase equipment. The manager does not necessarily have to be a Co-op member, but so far outsiders have never served in any management capacity within the Co-op. The manager has no authority to discipline Co-op members. The Board appoints a Safety Committee to deal with members who have accidents and a Grievance Committee to deal with members against whom complaints about misbehavior are lodged. Recommendations by these committees are subject to approval by the Board of Directors. Any member whose driving record becomes unacceptable may be placed on suspension until reinstated by the Board. A member whose record is such that continued association with the Co-op constitutes a liability to the organization may be expelled a by two-thirds vote of all the members.
In order to become a member one must have a San Francisco taxicab permit. When a shareholder dies the permit reverts back to the City, and the membership, without a permit, becomes inactive. The membership may be sold to a person who has a taxicab permit or the Co-op can buy the membership from the estate and it is retired. It is not possible to be a Co-op member without a taxi permit. The policy of the Co-op has been to allow persons with permits to purchase memberships from the estates of deceased members.