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A Bigger Share for Bike-Share Workers: One Worker’s Story on Winning a Voice (and Contract) in the Workplace

A Bigger Share for Bike-Share Workers: One Worker’s Story on Winning a Voice (and Contract) in the Workplace

There is an invisible hand that mysteriously guides bike behavior in New York City, making them disappear and reappear all around the city…and that hand belongs to Dolly Winter. Dolly, a friendly veteran dispatcher, has worked for Citi Bike in New York City since its launch in 2013. Dolly says her favorite part of the job is watching the flow of the bikes and people in the city. She is truly a bike enthusiast who believes that bike-share programs change lives and build healthier communities.

As a dispatcher, Dolly is making sure the “sharing” part of the system is working for the community of bike riders. Dolly also reminds us riders that behind the bikes exists a vast network of dispatchers, bike mechanics, mobile IT technicians, call-center workers and drivers helping to grow and redistribute the bike-wealth in the city. 

In her position as dispatcher, Dolly became friends with her co-workers and a leader committed to working for a voice on the job and a share of the growing success of the bike-share industry for workers. "We all had issues, mainly surrounding scheduling, working conditions and pay; some departments felt it more than others,” Dolly says. She saw similar issues around erratic schedules and pay scales when she worked at the bike share in Washington, D.C. “There’s strength in numbers.  Having a voice on the job empowers workers, improves job satisfaction and performance.”

Last year, Dolly and nearly 200 bike-share workers joined the larger transportation family of 38,000 union employees who run New York City's subway and bus systems. Dolly reports that the company recognized their collective power early, making improvements in wages and schedules even before the contract was negotiated, but shortly after workers formed a union with the Transport Workers (TWU) Local 100. TWU President Harry Lombardo and Executive Vice President and Local 100 President John Samuelsen were particularly proud to work with talented members like Dolly in New York City to organize the first bike-share union in the country, followed by wins for workers in Boston, Washington, D.C., and Chicago soon after.

When Dolly and her co-workers more recently won their groundbreaking contract, the first of its kind for bike-share workers in the nation, they got a nice boost in wages and benefits, more security and better schedules. Specifically, workers won 10% raises with periodic bumps up to 20%, parental leave and vacation time, a worker's council and grievance procedure. The gains made in this contract can now serve as building blocks for a national bike-share contract.

So the next time you take a ride, remember all the invisible hands, of dispatchers, drivers, mechanics, techs…of workers fueling the bike-economy...don’t you think they deserve a bigger share and say in the bike-share economy?

Want to learn more about Dolly? Here’s more at her Twitter takeover on Aug. 12 of Secretary of Labor Tom Perez’s Twitter account.  

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