Bernie Sanders announces support for Bay Area Ford GoBike unionization

Sanders is all in for San Francisco bike share unionization.

Presidential hopeful and Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders announced his support for Bay Area Ford GoBike unionization Monday on Twitter, drawing national attention to the unionization of just 90 local workers.

The unionization vote itself is set for Thursday and could result in mechanics and other maintenance workers at Motivate LLC, which maintains Ford GoBike’s fleet, joining the Transport Workers Union of America — the same union that represents Muni operators.

“I’m proud to stand in solidarity with the employees at Ford GoBike in San Francisco who are voting to join the Transport Workers Union on March 28th,” Sanders tweeted Monday just after noon. “We cannot have a strong and vibrant middle class without a strong and vibrant trade union movement.”

Although it is unclear why Sanders weighed in on the local effort Monday, the Democratic hopeful did stop in The City for a campaign rally in Fort Mason on Sunday where campaign organizers say more than 17,000 supporters gathered to support his presidential run.

Sanders was flanked by local politicos including former Assemblymember Tom Ammiano and San Francisco Democratic Party Chair David Campos, as well as the San Francisco Berniecrats.

“We are all in support of unionizing the workforce,” said Claire Lau, co-chair of SF Berniecrats. “I think it’s always great to have workers to have their right to bargain for their wages and benefits.”

More than half of the 90 workers from Motivate in the Bay Area have signed pledge cards filed with the National Labor Relations Board, which scheduled the union election, according to TWU, which include workers in San Francisco, San Jose and Oakland.

The San Francisco chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America and — in an unusual move — the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition, have both come out in support of unionization. The DSA’s Labor Committee is canvassing for volunteers to help with the unionization drive.

The coalition, has rarely, if ever, publicly backed any unionization efforts in recent memory, transportation related or otherwise. However, in response to inquiries by the San Francisco Examiner, the coalition announced it would support the bike share workers unionization effort.

“The SF Bicycle Coalition knows that collective power holds the powers that be accountable, which is why we are proud to stand in solidarity with bike share employees who are voting to unionize this Thursday,” said Janice Li, the bike coalition’s advocacy director. “We have always advocated for an equitable bike share system that serves everyone, and that absolutely should extend to the workers who keep the system running.”

The bike share advocacy group Our Bikes also previously announced support of the Ford GoBike unionization effort.

joe@sfexaminer.com

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