Cognition Issue 9

DMS Courier Follows UltraEx in Demanding Union Recognition!!
DMS couriers and management met last Monday evening to discuss scrapping the Universal Payout Grid (UPG). DMS walkers and bikers had signed a petition requesting the removal of the UPG and reinstatement of commission-based pay. This was the fourth such petition and like the ones previous, the management refused to comply with the employees' request.
The last thing DMS' representative Tom Finley expected to see on Tuesday evening was a dozen DMS bikers, two DMS drivers, and Fred Pecker of the ILWU presenting him with a formal letter, demanding the recognition the ILWU as the bargaining agent to represent all of the workers of DMS.
Finley at first refused to believe that a majority of DMS employees supported this letter and had signed ILWU union authorization cards. Those present rapidly disagreed with him. The majority of DMS employees have signed cards and know exactly want they want and are through with their demands being ignored by DMS management.
"Let me just say that tonight I am very proud of my Brothers and Sisters in the Messenger Community. Thank you," writes Marc Gunther, S-Car-Go driver and founder of UBADD.
"That's two of San Francisco's major companies served with demands for union recognition now÷Ultra Ex and DMS," writes SFBMA director Joel Metz, "Professional is just around the corner!" -A

"We're all capable of mistakes, but I do not care to enlighten you on the mistakes we may or may not have made."
--Vice President Dan Quayle


Message From Your President
State of the Union

Messenger Sisters & Brothers,
As we enter a new year in an old millennium, it is customary to look back on our past experience while preparing for our future.
Our Messenger Industry has been through many changes in the 90s. Thanks to our European brothers and sisters the sport of being a Messenger presented its first exposure to non-Messengers through the Cycle Messenger World Championships starting in 1993. Thanks to Messengers and other cyclists the role of Bicycling in transportation and environmental issues is being seriously considered. Our music, art, community work and "zines" are increasing in scope and size everywhere. BMAs, once found only in SF and Denver, now exist throughout North America and are being founded overseas as well.
The Messenger Industry itself has also been through many changes. In 1990 many "experts" declared that we would soon follow the dinosaurs and dodo birds into extinction. Faxes and other new technologies would ruin us, they stated. Well those prognosticators simply couldn't prognosticate very well. The Messenger Industry is at its height and is growing at 15 % per year according to some analysts. Bicycle Messengers now ride in many cities where we never were before. Here in the Bay Area we deliver as far as the Headlands, San Rafael, San Jose, the southern suburbs and the East Bay.
In SF we still experience "crackdowns" by local authorities but nothing as repressive as in 1984 or 1989÷or as repressive as in Boston or other cities. We resisted the 1989 crackdown militantly yet peacefully÷and successfully. When SF Messengers organized the 1996 CMWC it was proclaimed the best ever.
But some things haven't changed. Messengers remain unrepresented in the Industry we define and our tag rates and pay checks are locked in a sick and twisted time warp from the 80s. It is clear that the Messenger Company Owners can't change this situation by themselves. Messengers obviously need to take action. Although we have done so more needs to be done.
In 1998 the SFBMA took the following actions that can start to get ourselves represented in our Industry and in the general public.
Last year we further developed our BMA and inspired Messengers in other cities to start theirs. In 98 we started a working agreement with the International Longshoremen's and Warehousemen's Union (ILWU) . The importance of this is NOT ONLY do we now have good allies in the Labor Movement, it showed that we have won some long earned respect by choosing our own jurisdiction.
We helped RKO get his job back at Aero when DMS canned him after years of working every single day.
With help from the ILWU we held the largest and best 10-9 Day ever, winning recognition from activists and labor leaders as well as Mayor Brown and Supervisor Ammiano. Our SF custom of 10-9 Day is now honored by Messengers in North America and overseas. This year we'll celebrate Messenger Appreciation Day on October 8. In other words: 10-8 !
Messengers are now represented on the SF Bicycle Advisory Committee, the organization responsible for reporting bike issues to the City government.
In at least three major companies Bicycle Messengers have organized themselves unanimously (or at least nearly so) by signing ILWU authorization cards.
All these accomplishments have happened because we are becoming more and more united. But much remains to be done.
To attain our goals of better income (including higher tag prices) and fully paid benefits we must continue to :
1 - unify ourselves (especially by signing ILWU authorization cards),
2 - educate new employees in the Messenger Industry and
3 - reach out to Drivers, Dispatchers and Order Writers.
Furthermore I think we should also consider new goals especially if such aims can help us achieve our previous goals.
As we make our efforts we should realize something that is true yet unknown to most of us. We should realize that we have a true moral claim to everything we ask for. We deserve everything we ask for. We have earned everything we ask for and we should never be tricked into thinking otherwise. Anyone who tells us that we are not good enough for a better standard of life is just guilty of the same ignorance and bigotry we have heard from our first days as Messengers. Whatever sins Messengers have committed (and we must admit we're certainly not perfect) are nothing compared to the thefts and slaughters we see committed by our so-called betters. We often see our clients' names in the papers and it's not for good conduct. And it's usually our CHEAPEST clients who are the worst offenders.
Nevertheless, as we have the moral high ground, we must not make the mistake of losing it as some social movements do. We can fight as militantly as we want (and we may need to be very militant!) as long as we fight clean.
Right now what we need to do is fill out the ILWU authorization cards. If you haven't yet bug me about it (I almost always carry some) or ask another SFBMA officer.
Regarding the question of striking: Striking is like riding on 6th Street ÷you may not want to fight anybody but you will if somebody tries to take your bike."
Sincerely,
Howard A. Williams, President of the SFBMA


STRIKE AUTHORIZATION MEETING
Striking even for a day is a serious matter. Strikes are meant to be won not put ourselves on the tube or in the paper. We in the SFBMA have called our next meeting to be at the Wall on Thursday March 4 at 6p.m. to discuss the strike issue.
It is my duty to tell you all how I feel about this issue. I will not use any powers as President to impose my strike views but I will certainly voice them as any Messenger should.
I believe we should be ready to strike on or before April 15.
Let's understand that this meeting is to vote on a Strike Authorization not a Strike Call. What's the difference?
An authorization means that we have authorized striking as a tactic of last resort. A call means we have actually decided on a day to strike. In terms of timing, an authorization usually comes first then the call comes - if necessary.
Our companies use firing as a way to have power over us. In theory they should use that power as a last resort but we see that they are very spoiled by that power. That's because we let them by not showing our power. We need to have some balance. The power to strike provides that.
Many of us believe we should strike for respect. Others believe we should do so for economic reasons. These are important motives but I believe we should do so for another reason.
It is the right thing to do.
We know tag prices are too low and we know they'll never reach anywhere near what they should be if we remain passive.
What we do could be very beneficial for everyone in the Industry. This really wouldn't be about striking our companies; it would be about striking the clients.
Most of us understand that there is a serious and growing gap between the rich and working people in our city and country as well as overseas. Our industry is an even starker reflection of this fact - not only in the gap between Messengers and Owners but especially in the chasm between the Messenger Industry and our Clients.
We have the power to change this gap for our profession and our Industry. As I see it having the power to change it means we have the duty to change it. By doing so we can do our small but vital part toward changing it in our city and beyond.
If we do authorize a strike Messengers at each company need to meet to determine how to coordinate with Messengers at other companies and to elect representatives. The month of March will be a busy one.
Those are my thoughts. Whatever yours are make sure you express them. The SFBMA motto of the month for March 1999 is: "In like a Lamb, out like a LION!! "
Sincerely,
Your President Howard A. Williams

"If we don't succeed, we run the risk of failure." -- J. Danforth Quayle



SFBMA Elections
The second annual SFBMA elections will be held at our April 1st meeting. Nominations will be accepted for Executive Director, President, Treasurer, Secretary, and the five to nine members of the Board of Directors. Anyone who has been a messenger in San Francisco in the last year is eligible for nomination. Please announce your nominations at any of the upcoming general meetings.
Our constitutional requirements of each office are as follows:
President: The President shall represent the best interests of the membership to the general public. If there are responsibilities to be delegated, it is the President's job to do so, as well as to organize and submit necessary budgets to the Board of Directors for approval.
Treasurer: The Treasurer is responsible for collecting and accounting for dues and other funds, and shall report these records at each General Meeting, as well as make these records available to any member with reasonable notice.
Secretary: The Secretary shall keep minutes of every General Meeting, make them available to any member with reasonable notice, and periodically post them in a conspicuous location.
Executive Director: The Executive Director is required to fill in for any of the above offices with reasonable notice. The Executive Director is the "Principal Officer".
Board of Directors: Our Board shall consist of either 5, 7 or 9 people. It is the Board's responsibility to approve or disapprove budgets and committees.
A hearty thank you to our elected officials that fulfilled their duties this last year! -A

"People that are really very weird can get into sensitive positions and have a tremendous impact on history."
-- Vice President Dan Quayle