New York Messengers Alliance Launches, First for Couriers aka ‘Asphalt Warriors’

Have you ever balanced two 20-pound bags on each side of your bike handlebars while traveling across a potholed 14th Street and an SUV sharply U-turns toward your right, leaving you seconds to make a life-saving evasive maneuver?

Snap decisions are now my daily life since I entered this messenger game 18 months ago. Since then, almost every single day has been playing Reality Frogger on a road, in arguably the second most traffic-filled city in this country. To survive this game, you have to have, what I call, a "Bikey Sense."

See that minivan coming up, and here I’m lugging two garment bags in my mess pack? I swerve out of the way at the last second. I know when to pivot before the wheels of cars crush my feet.

And the genius who careens his car into the bike lane at 9th Avenue, inches from throwing me into the storefront? I can hear the Fox 5 10 p.m. headline, "Hit and Run: Messenger's Body Found in Pure Thai Cookhouse Window."

This job is having last-second twitch fibers while transporting an assortment of items, from a rent check to a 6-foot bubble wrap roll, on a two-wheel vehicle, while four- and even eighteen-wheeled monsters breathe down your neck. One mistake could be the difference between going home and going to the morgue.

Yet, most of us don't have health insurance. We can't cash in our non-existent disability benefits. Whether it's 100 degrees burning the city, or 26-foot snowstorms freezing it, we're out there, carrying this town.

But the app companies and regular messenger setups don't carry us in return. Chief criminal in this is Uber. When I first got into delivering items through Uber Rush, it seemed great: a way to pay the bills and rent, all the while getting exercise and seeing the sights.

And for a while, it was. Then the pay cuts began. The excuses justifying them followed (cheaper rates mean more users and more money.) And at the same time, my bank deposit began dropping. Now, what used to take seven hours for $100, takes me at least 10.

We make this city run. Just like the transit workers below our feet, and the sanitation workers down the street. But unlike them, we're not getting our just due, and that needs to change.

That is why we are starting this movement. All asphalt warriors should join.

The New York Messengers Alliance (NYMA), a grassroots labor organization led by veteran and new bike messengers and walkers, just launched with its first Worker Safety Campaign, calling on companies from Uber to Postmates to pay for safety equipment and provide workers' compensation for injured workers. NYMA seeks to organize one union for all 10,000 courier brothers and sisters who work the streets in the country's biggest courier market.

National Taxi Workers Alliance (NTWA) Solidarity Statement:

After long shifts, in between drop-offs and during rare time off, NYMA leaders have put in countless hours to build their organization. We have witnessed something truly beautiful and awe-inspiring: the dawning of a new workers' movement, the newest union in New York City. The NTWA could not be more honored to welcome our courier brothers and sisters as they become our first non-driver affiliate.

As organizers, we see the power and grace in the working class and the poor every day. We see the courage of the oppressed to speak truth to power and the genius of organized workers bending the will of Wall Street with little resources on their side. To see a new workforce find its collective voice, its vision, its shared principles and militancy has been nothing short of magical.

Power to the New York Messengers Alliance! Hasta La Victoria Siempre!

Have a message of solidarity for New York messengers? Send it along to [email protected] by Oct. 25.