We the messengers of the Bay Area, known as the San Francisco Bike Messenger Association, or SFBMA hereby state our mission; to promote unity and solidarity within the messenger community and to raise the status of our profession.
In support of our mission, the San Francisco Bike Messenger Association proposes the following courses of action be taken:
• to maintain mutually beneficial relationships with organizations that share our interests
• to be a national and international liaison
• to greet new and returning messengers
• to give mutual aid and support whenever possible to our fellow messengers (including the Broken Bones Fund when necessary)
• to hold events such as bike races, parties, art shows, and any other activities that promote camaraderie within the cycling community
• to stand up for our worker’s rights
The San Francisco Bike Messenger Association was created in the winter of 1990-91, the brainchild of messengers including Parté King, Nosmo King, Markus Cook, and Joe Corio. They wanted an organization in which messengers could pool their talents to work for the betterment of the entire SF messenger community.
Initially anyone who worked in the SF messenger industry (bike/scooter/car/walking/motorcycle messengers, ordertakers, dispatchers, etc.) was automatically a member of the SFBMA.
To help out couriers injured on the job or whom had legal problems, the SFBMA held the “Hard-Luck Benefit Series” of concerts to raise money. One of the first SFBMA annual events that continues to this day, is Joe Corio’s Groundhog Day “49-Mile Ride.” While not the first bike messenger association (New York messengers formed the Indepedent Courier Association in the 1980s), the SFBMA has been influencial and given the world Messenger Appreciation Day, October 9th (10-9), when Parté and Nosmo King convinced Mayor Art Agnos to declare this a SF holiday.
A recent addition from Marilee:
“With regard to Bike Messenger Appreciation Day, I was actually the one who wrote Art Agnos, a personal friend of my boss, and asked for an appreciation day for SF’s hard-working messengers. That was in 1991. He agreed, and I asked Nozmo King to choose the day. The messengers chose as their special day 10-9. Nozmo scanned my letter to Art as well as his reply to me. This link shows from the archives of the old messenger mag, Mercury Rising, shows both. Scanning to a computer was a little primitive in those days, and Nozmo could not capture the signatures, but these are the letters that started it all. I’d be grateful if you could add my name to the information on Appreciation Day that is on your website. Have a great day, guys! http://messarchives.com/
Marilee Taylor Montgomery
The SFBMA messenger band LSID traveled to the first CMWC in Berlin and brought the spirit of SF to the world messenger community. Markus Cook was there (LSID guitarist, SF Messenger) and his zine Mercury Rising. It also accompanied him in London at the 2nd CMWC and the 3rd in Toronto. While attending CMWC in Toronto- Mercury Rising issue 11 was a pivotal propaganda piece for the SFBMA to get the 4th World Championship to SF. And it worked!
SF hosted the Cycle Messenger World Championships in 1996. It had three days of racing with 600 participants from all over the world. It was a colossal group effort, with hands on Cate Cusick, Linda Laski, Megan Redington (SFBMA President at the time), Bok Choy, Bones and hundreds more volunteers from messengers to neighborly Schwinn riders. A CD compilation of SF bike messenger bands was produced for the event: “Pothole” and a booklet of practical tips for messengers was published. CMWC opened many SF messengers to the worldwide messenger community for the first time.
Emboldened by the success of CMWC – Wendy Fallin, Limor Geisler and America Meredith called together the first meeting to actively seek union organization of the Bay Area urgent delivery industry. Former CMWC organizers Howard Williams, Bok Choy Mathewson, and Joel Metz helped transform the SFBMA into a labor-advocacy group, with the help of Lance Schroeder, Eric Scudder, and countless others. For a few years, the SFBMA formed an alliance with the International Longshore and Warehouse Union, Local 6, Several multinational corporations who undercut locally owned businesses were driven out of the SF messenger industry: Fidelity National Title, DMS, and Express Legal Services. Messengers won class-action lawsuits against messenger companies for wage and overtime violations. Ultimately, Speedway and Professional Messenger employees organized under the ILWU Local 6. As more messengers took the reins of the SFBMA, to name a few: Rak Affonso, Carey Dall, Bernie Corace, Jason Whitehead, Damon Votour, Howard Williams and more. They reached out to local politicians and established community ties that the SFBMA still honors today. A favorable effort that continues is that messenger companies must comply with laws regarding employee/independent contractor determination.
The SFBMA and the ILWU union drive parted ways a few years later- as the mix was useful for some companies; it did not address the majority of needs for all. New messenger businesses formed and collectives contributed to a higher standard of fairness in messenger businesses.
Currently, the SFBMA fosters local messenger community through: fundraising alleycats, meetings that address working conditions, supporting efforts to provide revenue for the Broken Bones fund, and supporting community partners at a local and worldwide level.
In tempo with that- Editor ‘Sammy Shiraco’ publishes the SFBMA’s newsletter, Cognition. It is the longest running printed messenger zine in the world and has contributors from every continent- as well as rookies to retirees. Cognition hopes to carry out the mission of Mercury Rising and dear Markus Cook.
The SFBMA’s annual events are incredibly popular: the Russian River Ride, the Quake City Rumble, 10-9 Messenger Appreciation Day Celebration and the SFFD SFBMA Hanx Jaks Toys for Tots Toy drive.
Source: from life and