Portland-based Alta Bicycle Share has released an official statement about an inquiry into the companies employee labor practices. At the end of last month, sixteen current and past employees of the Alta-run Capital Bikeshare system in Washington D.C., went public with allegations that the company had underpaid them and failed to provide federally mandated health benefits. An online petition in the form of a letter to Alta VP Mia Birk has over 1,500 signatures.
Alta released a brief statement on May 27th and Birk commented on the issue in a BikePortland story on June 11th; but today’s statement offers their most detailed explanation of the issue to date.
A central issue to the wage complaint is that Alta hasn’t paid specific types of workers the associated federal prevailing wage for their positions. However, Alta says (via their statement) that the reason for this oversight is because many of their bike share jobs are in a “cutting edge industry” and they are not listed in the prevailing wage guidelines. “We have been very thoroughly working to determine the best classification for our jobs,” reads the statement.
Alta says they have “undertaken an exhaustive review” of Capital Bikeshare-related contracts “to further ensure we are treating our employees with the respect they deserve.”
As for the ongoing Department of Labor inquiry, Alta says it has been time-consuming and the ultimate timeline, “will depend on the Department of Labor.”
The full text of the statement is below:
Official Statement on Department of Labor Federal Wage Inquiry
In mid-April of this year, the U.S. Department of Labor requested information from Capital Bikeshare operator Alta Bicycle Share about compliance with federal wage guidelines in our contract with the District Department of Transportation. Since that time, we have been working diligently to provide the department with the information they have requested. This process began well before any mention of the request was highlighted by the media or any other organization, and Alta is committed to ensuring that we are in complete compliance with the wage and benefit components of all our contracts. Accordingly, Alta has undertaken an exhaustive review of the four Capital Bikeshare-related contracts in the DC area, as well as all other contracts for systems we operate, to further ensure we are treating our employees with the respect they deserve. As most of our jobs in this cutting edge industry are not currently listed in the prevailing wage guidelines, we have been very thoroughly working to determine the best classification for our jobs.
Capital Bikeshare was Alta’s first system in the US, and we are very proud of its success. Since we started in September of 2010, Capital Bikeshare’s more than 20,000 annual and monthly members, plus hundreds of thousands for short term users, have logged over 4 million bike trips in the region. Alta strongly believes in the power of bicycling to transform cities into more livable spaces. We also strongly believe that success of our company, and of bike share as a concept in the US, has been due in large part to the people we have tasked with making the system work. From rebalancers and bike mechanics, to our station technicians and support staff, we value the hard work of each and every employee and the contribution they have made to our successes. A bike share system is nothing without the staff to make it work.
This has been a time consuming process, and one that necessarily has to be done under the oversight of the Department of Labor. We intend to resolve as soon as possible, but the timeline will depend on the Department of Labor.
We ask for your patience and hope you continue to enjoy Capital Bikeshare.