Letters

Pay the Messenger
In your article about the movement to organize messengers in San Francisco ("Strike While the Iron Is Hot," Bay View, March 24), a major factor was not mentioned. Messengers are not paid by the hour. Instead, we receive a percentage of the price of each delivery we make. Because prices for messenger deliveries in San Francisco are among the lowest in the industrialized nations, messengers here are quite possibly the poorest in the nation.

The San Francisco Bike Messenger Association believes that delivery prices must rise if messengers are to receive the benefits and better pay we deserve. Higher delivery prices will also mean a higher income for our companies as well. The SFBMA believes the way to increase delivery prices is for messengers to form an industrywide union. With industrywide union standards, companies can increase their delivery prices (and thus messenger income) without fear of the drastic undercutting that currently plagues San Francisco's messenger businesses.

Howard A. Williams
President, SFBMA
San Francisco

Bok Choy? Really?
Matt Smith's "Strike While the Iron Is Hot" leaves much to be desired. For instance, the subtitle, "Bike messengers organizing for April 15 walkout," suggests the San Francisco Bike Messenger Association is calling for an across-the-board strike. Assuredly, this is not the case. A few select companies might strike; however, that depends on ensuing developments in a rapidly changing playing field.

We are not "making things up as they go along," considering the SFBMA has been planning April 15 actions for months. The ILWU and the SFBMA have had a formal working agreement since last April, not last October. A majority of San Francisco DMS employees have, in fact, signed cards with ILWU Local 6 and no one was coerced.

Regarding the statement: "messengers have been talking union for years, with nothing to show for it" -- independently messengers have won a few victories for themselves, but the current effort with the ILWU is the first ever industrywide organizing campaign for messengers in the Bay Area. And I think we have a lot to show for our hard work.

The only quotes by actual messengers are tacked on to the tail end of the article, and these lack surnames and are preceded by irrelevant descriptions of the messengers' appearance. Why no physical description of Sal Grassia or Greg Austin? The reason why our elected executive director, whose quote was taken completely out of context, "calls himself Bok Choy" is that happens to be his legal name.

Will SF Weekly join the daily papers, international magazines, radio, and television news by finally taking messengers seriously as workers fighting to regain some control over their working conditions?

Mary America Meredith
SFBMA Board Member
San Francisco

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