October 31, 2014
By Marc Bussanich
New York, NY—The decision by Alta Bicycle Share to opt out in October of voluntarily recognizing Transport Workers Union Local 100 as the union to represent over 200 Citi Bike employees isn’t stopping the local from launching a national organizing drive to represent Bikeshare workers.
In September, Alta’s subsidiary, NYC Bike Share, signed an agreement to recognize Local 100 as the employees’ labor organization. But then they abruptly opted out. But the union is already organizing in places like Boston, Washington, D.C. and Chicago.
In the accompanying video interview with Local 100’s president, John Samuelsen, he said that the union sees bike sharing as another important mode of public transit worthy of organizing.
“We’re in conversations with workers all over the country right now. We obviously won recognition in New York City. We’re moving forward with a national organizing drive for bike share workers and I’m very proud to be doing that,” said Samuelsen.
He also added that Bikeshare workers are a perfect fit for TWU Local 100 and the TWU nationally.
“If it moves, we want to organize it. These workers deserve a voice and now they have it.”
The city recently announced plans to double the number of bike shares throughout the city, along with expansion in other major cities across the country, which is why the union is willing to dedicate organizing resources.
“Our ultimate goal is to create a national bike share TWU local, not necessarily Local 100. That’s my vision and the workers as well—to create a national bike share workers' local in cities across America with one union and one voice,” Samuelsen said.
We couldn’t believe it when it was announced on Tuesday that John’s nemesis from a few years ago, Jay Walder, is coming back to The Big Apple to lead the Bikeshare expansion here.
“I spoke to Jay Walder. He went out of his way to give me a call. I think he and the TWU have a vision for a successful bike share expansion. Yeah, there’s some history there, and not all of it was good. But this is worthy of a fresh start. I think that’s Walder’s intention, and it’s certainly my intention,” said Samuelsen.
Before we conducted the interview at Union Square, Samuelsen informed us that three Local 100 members were injured on the job at the Union Square station just a few hours before. He was rushing to Cornell Medical Center to check up on them.
“Unfortunately, last night there was an industrial accident on the tracks; a third-rail related explosion. We have members of the Cornell burn unit and I’m on my way up there now to look after them.”