Couriers Launch Campaign to Improve Conditions Industry-Wide
SAN FRANCISCO – Friday, August 12, The IWW Couriers Union Organizing Committee publicly asserts the right of workers at Speedway Delivery and Messenger Service, and throughout the courier industry, to a living wage.
For many years workers in the courier industry have been subjected to shamefully low or wildly fluctuating compensation from employers. Couriers work day in and day out – working in trucks, on bikes, or on foot – in extremely dangerous conditions, under intense pressure to deliver parcels on time. While most couriers fulfill their ominous task dutifully, few find that their compensation fulfills the task of making ends meet. Living hand to mouth is the norm for the people on whose backs our metropolises thrive.
At San Francisco-based Speedway Delivery and Messenger Service, conditions are no better. In fact, they’re much worse. Bought by current owners Lori O’Rourke and Charlie Lutge in the 1980s from former owners who refused to deal with then-emerging unionizing efforts, Speedway has pushed working conditions below even non-union standards. Their couriers endure harassment and disrespectful treatment from management, are extorted for equipment replacements, and to top it off, make an insultingly low commission of about 35% per delivery (most companies pay 50%), or as little as $8.00 an hour. That’s almost 20% less than the prevailing San Francisco minimum wage of $9.92 an hour, which is still far too low for most Bay Area workers to live on.
To inaugurate our campaign to improve working conditions for all workers in the courier industry in the San Francisco Bay area, we have submitted a letter to Speedway owners demanding that they stop breaking minimum wage laws and pay a Living Wage, and to remedy grievances regarding disrespectful treatment at work. It is our aim that these issues will be handled swiftly, respectfully, and to the satisfaction of Speedway’s hard-working couriers by Wednesday, August 17th 2011. Further action from the Organizing Committee will then be necessary to resolve the issues at hand.
The IWW Couriers Union is a democratic organization of, by, and for all workers in the parcel delivery industry. By uniting across the industry – drivers, bike couriers, dispatchers and other non-managerial office staff – we are forming an independent organization to improve working conditions and secure our livelihoods. We are affiliated with the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW), and international member-run union founded in 1905 for all working people.