The Loudoun County Transit Strike: An Expert's Perspective

The Loudoun County Transit Strike has been a major disruption for commuters in the area, with dozens of employees on strike since January. This work stoppage has caused delays in the deployment of the largest expansion of the Loudoun transportation system in more than a decade, which was planned to coincide with the opening of the new Silver Line metro stops and provide bus service to those stops. The Amalgamated Traffic Union (ATU) Local 689 is attempting to negotiate a fair and equitable contract for its members that guarantees decent wages and benefits for all Loudoun County transportation workers. However, the Loudoun County Government has not imposed any fines on Keolis, the private company hired to operate local and commuter bus services, for their lack of service due to their persistent bad faith attitude.

According to a press release from Loudoun County Transit, it could take “several weeks” for service to be restored, and schedules may change daily depending on the availability of drivers, especially in the case of commuter buses. The letter does not indicate what motivated the decision to end the strike; union members have not yet voted on any contract offers from Keolis. Local 689 represents about 160 Keolis employees in Loudoun and has been negotiating the terms of a three-year contract since late last summer. While Lake says that commuter bus drivers will have the highest pay scale in the area, Tyler says fixed-route and paratransit drivers are still being paid less than in other comparable places. Members of Local 689 demonstrated outside the Loudoun Government Center in Leesburg on Tuesday, February 2.The union maintains that privatization has been a disaster for such a vital public service and that the Loudoun County government must use every possible tool to prevent Keolis from continuing to negotiate in bad faith. After weeks of disdain by the public, workers, and the Loudoun County government in the midst of a strike, Loudoun County Transit contractor Keolis finally sat down to negotiate Tuesday with worker representatives from Local 689, the ATU and the International.

The striking Loudoun Transit employees will return to work on Monday, March 20, as announced by the Amalgamated Traffic Union, even though they have not yet obtained all the concessions they have asked for from Keolis North America. Unfortunately, Keolis did not submit any substantial offers and was removed without consequences from the Loudoun County Government. “What a shame for Loudoun County for outsourcing to an anti-union company that only cares about its profits and what a shame for not having fined Keolis for the lack of service,” said ATU International President John Costa. With passengers suffering due to minimal service during this month-long strike, Keolis's continued deception has further prolonged this crisis with its front-line workers and misled both the Loudoun County government and the public.

Molly Aki
Molly Aki

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