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Old 02-26-09, 10:44 AM   #1
PotatoSlayer
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Bike-commuting stimulus question

I am part of a union and we are proposing new ideas as the renewal of our contract is this year. There are several issues that are being addressed (company layoffs have made my department inadequately staffed). I was figuring this would be a good time to try to get my $20/month for being a bicycle commuter.

There is no public transportation in this area and I'd guess at least 95% of the employees drive. The rest live in town and walk to work. I am one of three bicycle commuters.

They built a parking garage and that is where they have people park. Unless it is really busy (this is an entertainment venue) they have us park there. If they expect a busy night they pay for us to park in another local parking garage and shuttle us to work.

I figure after all they go through for drivers, $20 a month is nothing to ask. However, they do not participate in any mass transit, etc allowances.

Any ideas of how to propose this?
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Old 02-26-09, 12:27 PM   #2
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Remember three things, if I recall correctly, you have to offer *all* the commuter options if you offer one. So that includes mass transit stuff and car/van pooling as well as cycling commuting. It can also cover parking fees (that might make it really appealing to your union if the parking garage charges).
Second, you have to do 51% (or was it 61%?) of your commuting miles on the bike. It might not be an issue for you but for me, with a passel of kids, Real Life tends to interrupt my bike mileage. You also can't claim for biking and parking.
Third, there's two ways to do this, they can pay you the money as a benefit, or they can set up an account where you pay in pre-tax dollars and then can use that to buy bike stuff. The second way doesn't mean much for taxes (unless you're $235 into the next tax bracket). It would be useful as a kind of safety, I-can-buy-emergency-bike-stuff-when-I-need-it voucher, or it might just be a reimbursement thing. Google Section 132 benefits or Section 132 transportation for more info.
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Old 02-27-09, 11:50 AM   #3
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Sure, put it on the table. It's an easy one to either negotiate away or for the company to grab in lieu of something that actually benefits more of its employees.

FWIW, my employer (which is quite large) offers the pre-tax transit/vanpool/parking commuter benefit enterprise-wide to everyone regardless of location or represented status, and no union asked them to do it. It's a tax write-off and it makes them look good. I put a bug in their ear about this new bike commuter gig, and nobody seems to know anything about it. This kind of thing is very much not on any union's radar in this company. YMMV.
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Old 02-27-09, 12:08 PM   #4
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What we have is a generic 'green' policy where we are given 10 min of vacation time for each day we bike, walk, car pool, or take public transportation to work. That's worth a lot more than $20/month!
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Old 02-27-09, 06:50 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by pacificaslim View Post
What we have is a generic 'green' policy where we are given 10 min of vacation time for each day we bike, walk, car pool, or take public transportation to work. That's worth a lot more than $20/month!
Wow. I'd get an extra week of vacation each year. That's worth far more than $20 a month. How does that work? Does it seem to convince a lot of people to do it?
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Old 02-27-09, 08:59 PM   #6
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There are about 50 people in my particular office and I'd say the most popular by far is carpooling, maybe 20 people. Two or three guys live where they can bike in and a couple even walk.
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