A CUPE local in Ottawa has negotiated a bicycling travel allowance:
Members of CUPE 3942 who work as mental health and social services workers at the Ottawa Salus Corporation have bargained what is a first for a CUPE Local: a bicycling travel allowance. A section of the Local’s Collective Agreement that deals with expenses now allows for members to file claims for travelling by bicycle. Specifically, the language states:
An employee who has travelled by bicycle for work purposes in excess of 100 kilometres between April 1st and October 31st may claim an allowance of $0.20/km to a maximum of fifty dollars ($50.00) towards the upkeep of such bicycle and related safety equipment. Such claim itemizing bicycle journeys will be made by November 30th of each year.
While this rate of reimbursement falls short of what is granted for private motor vehicle use, it is still a bold step in legitimizing bicycles for work transportation purposes. Ottawa is one of Canada’s more bike-friendly communities. Members of Local 3942 will certainly benefit from this extension of allowances to a green form of transportation.
CUPE’s website has some good pointers on making “green” transportation a priority for workplaces:
Transportation to, from and during work has a huge environmental impact. For example, single-occupancy driving day-in and day-out for work is not a green practice. Likewise, work-related air travel negatively impacts the climate.
There are greener transportation choices available, such as using public transit, bicycling, walking, carpooling, car-sharing, low-emission vehicles and other options. Green collective agreement provisions to support more environmental transportation would cover financial incentives and disincentives and support programs, such as:
* Employer-provided/supported public transit passes.
* Employer-provided/supported shoe allowances for workers who walk to work.
* Employer-provided/supported bicycle lock-up, showering facilities and flexible work schedules for bicycle commuters.
* Grants or loans to employees for bicycle purchases.
* Reimbursement for work-related bicycling kilometrage.
* Car-sharing schemes.
* Financial disincentives, such as employees paying for parking spaces for single-occupancy drivers.
* Employer-purchased legitimate carbon offsets for workers who must travel by air.
UNISON – a British trade union – has been very active in helping to develop Green Staff Travel Plans for its members that build on many of these points.