Cholo Magazine Interview #1: The 4 Star Courier Collective

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We will posting interviews with the cats from Cholo Magazine ( Lumpen 120 ) >  You can download the issue by clicking this link.
Please enjoy our interview with 4 Star Courier Collective’s  Jeff Perkins and Mike Morell.

Many young cholos end up in shitty, corporatist jobs. If you, young cholo, find a way around it, well—you’re one of the lucky ones. Owner-operator Jeff Perkins, founder Mike Morell and the other dudes of worker-owned 4 Star Courier Collective (the first, and for a while only such collective in Chicago) have executed a coup of sorts in that respect.

How did you become a bike messenger?
Jeff: I always loved riding my bicycle. Thanks to Craigslist, after graduation I went straight into a job at a company that was very forgiving to new hires.

Mike: I was looking for a part time job while I finished up school and responded to an ad in the Reader.

What was the inspiration for 4 Star?
M: 4 Star was founded in the fall of 2005. The five of us were working at different messenger companies but shared a love for the job [and] a distaste for the commission based employment structure at those companies. Messengers are often paid only on commission. We thought running a courier company as a collective would keep the thrill of working on commission (our pay is still determined by how much work the company can do) but also allow us to work as a team when delivering packages.

Instead of competing amongst ourselves, our concern shifts to how well the company does as a whole. We can meet up and hand off packages without being concerned with who is making the commission. We split duties in terms of dispatching and office work.

Since its inception, have other courier collectives emerged?
J: Other messengers are realizing the strength of being cooperative, and it has begun to catch on, particularly in food delivery. Power to ‘em.


Why a collective?

J: We know how to handle mistakes. It’s tough to market that, but what often happens in an on-demand service industry is people will have problems and make mistakes that will breed other problems. We are really good at preventing, recognizing and correcting problems. And that is just an innate quality of healthy collective model. When you are directly invested in your product and your reputation is at stake, you want to give it your all to make sure nothing is left unsettled nor anyone dissatisfied. And it’s comforting to trust your co-worker will be doing the same.


Oddest delivery you’ve made lately?

J: It’s amazing to me that someone can wrap brown paper and postage around a hula-hoop, mail it, and it will find its intended recipient.


How is 4 Star uniquely of Chicago and/or how is it informed by the city?

J: Courier collectives [are] not a Chicago invention. We know and appreciate everyone out there doing what we do. It gives us a perspective on how this city breathes and it gets us excited to be out there in it every day.

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