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San Francisco-based maintenance workers for Spin, a scooter rental company owned by Ford, have voted to unionize and joined a local Teamsters chapter, making them the first in the scooter industry to do so.
Why it matters: Scooter companies ruffled a lot of feathers when they showed up in San Francisco (and other cities), which has long been skeptical of tech companies using independent contractors to skirt some labor costs.
- The union vote applies to the roughly 40 workers responsible for maintenance and managing Spin's scooters available in San Francisco. Spin operates in numerous other U.S. cities, and it's unclear if workers elsewhere will also unionize.
The big picture: Spin initially began operating in San Francisco in the spring of 2018, along with rivals Bird and Lime, before all three companies were forced off the streets by regulators. In total, 12 companies subsequently applied for a year-long pilot program, though only Skip and Scoot were ultimately given a license at that stage.
- In October 2018, Ford (which has long employed unionized workers) acquired Spin for about $100 million. A year later, Spin got a permit to resume service in San Francisco.
- The company tells Axios that since it began expanding about 15 month ago, most workers it has hired have been employees from the start.
- Meanwhile, Scoot sold to Bird this past June, and recently laid off about two dozen employees.
Between the lines: Spin began working with the Teamsters months ago while it was waiting for the San Francisco transportation agency to issue operating permits (it did not get one for the earlier pilot program, in part for poor labor practices), as the SF Examiner reported at the time.