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Fresh Air! Speed! Poverty! Servitude!

The founders of Chicago's first bike messenger collective think there's gotta be a better way.

Written by Scott Eden; photographs by Jon Randolph.

June 23, 2006
The Chicago Reader

RENE CUDAL WAS the last to quit. The Friday after Labor Day 2005 was the day he’d marked in his calendar, but he procrastinated all morning and afternoon, dreading the moment his boss would put two and two together. Finally the boss went home. Cudal called him that evening and gave him two weeks’ notice.

A bike messenger quitting isn’t so unusual—messengers will tell you they all develop a strategy to extract themselves from the job, which is defined by a high risk of bodily harm, low wages, and few or no benefits. Michael Carey, Cudal’s boss at On Time Courier, was a former messenger himself. But Carey, a big, block-shouldered man with a reputation as both a polished salesman and a hard-line intimidator, didn’t take Cudal’s news well. “What’s happening?” Cudal remembers him saying. “What are you doing? Starting your own messenger company?”

Cudal was in agony. “Well,” he said, “yes.”

One by one over the past three weeks, Cudal’s partners Jack McLaughlin, Josh Korby, and Mike Morell had resigned from On Time to get to work on their own company, 4 Star Courier Collective. There are more than half a dozen courier companies in Chicago run by former messengers, but 4 Star would be different: it would be worker-owned and -operated, the first messenger coop in Chicago and only the third in the U.S.

Read the entire article. . .