Last Saturday, Metro Bike Share workers hosted a Solidarity Ride to draw attention to their current organizing drive for union representation. About two dozen cyclists, many on Metro Bike Share bikes, made their way from Union Station to downtown’s Donut Friend, which is also the site of a similar organizing drive.
“The purpose of the ride is to draw attention to the organizing drive that is taking place currently by Metro Bike Share workers” stated Transit Workers Union of America (TWU) Director of Organizing Angelo Cucuzza. “These workers filed with the National Labor Relations Board a couple of weeks back, and at this point we had asked for voluntary recognition of the unit by the employer. The employer has yet to answer our request for voluntary recognition.”
One of the ride’s organizers, a Metro Bike Share mechanic who requested that his name not be used, stated that the hope is that union representation would mean “wages that give us dignity [and] better worker protections.”
Though Metro’s name is on the bikes, these workers are employed by Metro’s contractor: Bicycle Transit Systems. BTS operates bike-share in several cities, including Las Vegas and Philadelphia. According to Cucuzza, BTS has hosted captive audience meetings (where employer representatives deliver anti-union presentations to employees) and has not yet recognized the union, though the “overwhelming majority of the workers that have signed cards to join the union.” The L.A. bike-share workforce in question numbers roughly around 50 employees.
Streetsblog emailed BTS to get their comment on the L.A. organizing drive, but did not receive a response by press time. SBLA will update this article if BTS responds.
Metro Boardmember Mike Bonin recently tweeted his support for bike-share worker unionization. Metro has a somewhat complicated relationship with its unions, but the agency has certainly touted the “union job” as a positive in recent ads recruiting bus operators.
TWU’s Cucuzza calls bike-share a growing industry that’s here to stay. He notes that TWU currently represents workers at nine bike-share systems, including “the largest bike-share in the world” in New York City, as well as systems in the Bay Area, Chicago, Washington D.C., and Boston.
Cucuzza noted that Metro Bike Share employees were deemed essential workers during the pandemic. “They worked during this entire pandemic making sure that this alternative transportation model was running during the entire brutal times that we just went through.”