NYC Bike Share employees who keep Citi Bikes rolling on the street and docks balanced said at a rally Monday they want to join the Transport Workers Union Local 100 for job security, regular raises and a unified voice on ways to improve day-to-day operations.
More than a dozen employees joined TWU officials at a Citi Bike dock on Broadway and 14th Street before bike share's anniversary Tuesday. More than 60% of NYC Bike Share's roughly 300 employees signed union authorization cards during the monthlong organizing campaign, according to the TWU, which represents 38,000 workers and is the chief union representing MTA employees.
Edwin Aviles, 41, of Bushwick, said he had been a full-time employee at NYC Bike Share until getting knocked down to part-time without benefits last fall. Aviles, a driver who now works three days a week at $18 an hour, complained that he is waiting for the company to make good on bringing him back to full-time work.
"They still got us in limbo," Aviles said.
Briton Malcomson, a 28-year-old Prospect-Lefferts Gardens resident and bike mechanic supervisor in midtown, complained of shop policies that change every other month and are made without input from workers on the ground.
"One of the first things that I think could be good is that we're all going to start talking about how we feel, together," said Malcomson, who joined CitiBike in January 2013.
NYC Bike Share, the local arm of Alta, a Portland-based company that manages bike share systems, did not return requests for comment. Citi Bike has been a hit among users despite the operational and technological snags. Still, those problems have been a barrier to expanding the system and getting public money to subsidize the service.
"It'll bring more minds in to solve the crucial problems," Juseg Reynoso, 27, of Bushwick, said about unionizing.
Reynoso, a three-day a week driver who rebalances the docks, was also concerned about improving benefits. He said he would be willing to take a pay cut and join a union if it meant full-time work and proper sick days instead of accrued paid time off.
With at least half of Citi Bike employees expressing support for organizing, the bike share operator can recognize the union or hold an election.
"They care very much about the success of this program and they want protections on the job," said TWU research director and Citi Bike member Tim Mathews. "We believe that Citi Bike is really public transit and deserves full support of the city."