September 2019: The e-scooter rental company Spin recently entered a labor peace agreement with San Francisco’s Teamsters Joint Council 7. This means if Spin were to operate in the city, it would become the first e-scooter company to allow unionization.
Executives at Spin hope this move will prove to the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA) that it is committed to providing employees the security they deserve. Of course, Spin also believes this announcement will bolster its chances of succeeding on the SFMTA’s e-scooter permitting process.
Spin has good reason to be concerned about this issue. In the SFMTA’s 2018 review of the company, city leaders viewed Spin unfavorably mainly because of the company’s overreliance on “gig employees.”
Like ride-share employees, many people working for e-scooter companies are considered “independent contractors” rather than permanent employees. This is especially true for workers who pick up, charge, and repair these devices every night.
In addition to unionizing its workforce, Spin is leading an aggressive campaign to hire locally. The city’s Office of Economic and Workforce Development announced Spin was the only e-scooter company to formally commit to giving San Franciscans from disadvantaged locations a heads-up for employment opportunities.
In August of 2018, the SFMTA approved Scoot and Skip to send in rentable e-scooters as a part of the city’s pilot program. Under the terms of this program, Skip is allowed to bring in a maximum of 800 rentable e-scooters while Scoot is allowed 650 devices.
The SFMTA is currently reviewing applications from almost a dozen companies that want to operate in San Francisco’s permanent e-scooter program. In addition to Spin, other companies in the running include:
At this date, it’s unknown when the SFMTA will release its final list of companies allowed to permanently operate in the city. Considering the pilot program will end this October, it’s likely the city will reveal names in the ensuing weeks.
Founded in San Francisco in 2016, Spin now operates dockless e-scooters in 57 cities and over a dozen college campuses. In late 2018, Ford agreed to buy Spin for $100 million.