LORTON, Va. (WDVM) — The strike by hundreds of Metrobus workers for increased wages and improved safety conditions entered its second week on Monday.
With signs in hand, the Amalgamated Transit Union made their message loud and clear as their strike against WMATA’s private contractor Transdev continued.
“We just want to be able to provide and take care of our families also,” said Trice Smith, Metrobus Operator.
“We’re out here on day 12 of the first Metrobus strike in 41 years. This property behind you is called the Cinder Bed Road garage and more than 120 workers have been on strike for almost two weeks now because WMATA decided to privatize this bus garage for the first time in the system’s history,” said Todd Brogan, organizer of the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 689 strike.
Organizers say their main goal is to end months of negotiations regarding their request for increased wages and better healthcare.
“They pay us $12 less than the average workers here in this area. Our medical benefits, we have to pay a six thousand dollar deductible before we even can have them pay into anything…We can’t afford it,” Smith said.
“This weekend after only 10 days on strike they cut off these workers healthcare benefits so that means people on insulin, and people who have heart disease. We had one worker who just had a baby last week. They’ve all been cut off their benefits to try to break the strike and draw them across the line,” Brogan added.
Bus drivers say Transdev also needs to improve safety.
“We’ve had buses that break down on the HOV going 60 miles per hour, I’ve experienced it actually three times. We have discrimination in the workplace from our management. It’s just everything going on here they know it’s not right and we just want them to be fair to our workers,” said Therian Graham, Metrobus Operator.
In a statement to WDVM, Transdev said:
Transdev and ATU Local 689 returned to the bargaining table on October 31, November 1 and 2, 2019, but the parties were unable to reach agreement. In an effort to advance the process, Transdev will be requesting that FMCS appoint a mediator to assist negotiations. The Union, however, has stated it is not supportive of a mediator being appointed.Transdev wants to take advantage of every available tool that could bring negotiations to a resolution. Transdev regrets the hardship and inconvenience caused by the work stoppage and remains fully committed to coming to an agreement as quickly as possible. Transdev continues to bargain in good faith and welcomes employees to return to work at any time while working toward a contract.
However, according to union workers, Transdev has walked away from the negotiation table twice.
The union plans to rally in front of the metro’s headquarters in downtown, D.C. on Wednesday at noon.