Power to the Peloton
37“We have for every Belgian team (2 Pro Tour – 2 Pro Continental – 8 Continental) one rider as our spokesman for their team. We are now installing for next year a rider’s council…so we can discuss urgent matters and we send some newsletters to our riders to give them information or to ask for their opinion. We give support to the riders…members can come to us for individual problems (salary problems, prize money, contracts, accidents.) We try also to make some collective bargaining agreements for the riders so we can offer them better working and salary conditions…We also have contacts with the Belgian Cycling Federation to solve some problems within teams. We are also member of the international trade union, CPA.”
Stijn Boeykens, SPORTA – Belgium’s Union for Cyclists
A long quote because this notion is foreign to riders in English-speaking countries. We have no cycling trade union, no rider representatives to speak for individual teams, no collective bargaining. The main voice for the American peloton is the swooshing of spokes, poetic but not at all political for practical concerns. All we have is 38one rider who represents American professional cycling interests to CPA, International Association of Professional Cyclists. CPA called for the commitment of all active in professional cycling, not just riders only, to sign agreements holding them accountable to clean cycling; and for riders to be more systematically consulted on relevant topics, such as: reasonable compensation/benefits, humane schedules/work practices, biological accountability balanced with privacy, and many others. Even America’s wealthy, powerful players’ associations in major sports started with one athlete who couldn’t make a living on just thousands per year and was outraged by it – dating back from the 1960s!!! To make it work, the Dutch cyclist union affiliates as a volunteer organization with their soccer trade union. The Belgian union is associated with a trade association for all sportsmen. Surely, the U.S. has an existing organization or an outraged rider who could ignite representation. Further, there is no cycling union from any English-speaking nation. I’m writing in plain English: we need a union for professional cyclists!
Prayer for Unions in Cycling
“You must be the people’s representative…and bring their disputes to him…Teach them the decrees and laws, and show them the way to live and the duties they are to perform.” 39Exodus 18:19-20
We ask for representation. We confess inactivity/complacency about disparities and freedom of speech. We pray for a voice beyond the whisper in our English wheels and ask blessing on existing unions.
Ponder How can I right this wrong? Affirm We can become a cycling republic. Watch for a way to take action!
37Dialogue with Stijn Boeykens about the nature of national rider associations and how they interact with the international association, CPA. John van den Akker of Cycling Service, the Dutch trade union was also responsive in my research.
38Currently, the American rider representative is George Hincapie, a suitable leader for American interests in Pro Tour and European professional racing, a true cycling diplomat.
39The Bible, New International Version, Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society