On the Picket Line

Virginia bus drivers strike contractor for equal pay

By Mike Galati
November 25, 2019

LORTON, Va. — Over 50 Metrobus drivers, mechanics and other workers at the Cinder Bed garage and maintenance facility here walked off the job Oct. 24. They are members of Amalgamated Transit Union Local 689, which represents bus, subway and maintenance workers for the Washington, D.C., Metro public transportation system.

After opening the Cinder Bed facility in 2018, Metro contracted out operation of the garage, and all the northern Virginia bus routes that are run from it, to Transdev. Workers there have been without a contract since February.

“Until last year, these were Metro jobs paying the union rate of over $33 an hour,” union organizer Brian Wivell told the Militant on the picket line Nov. 3. “Metro brought in Transdev and they’re paying workers a little over $20 per hour now, with much worse insurance benefits. They deserve to be paid what all the other bus drivers in the Metro system make.”

“The company offered a 20 cents wage increase,” said Titus Biney, one of the striking drivers. “That’s an insult. Twenty cents doesn’t buy a small bottle of water for your baby.”

Biney, who is originally from Ghana, had worked as a union bus driver in Chicago. He talked to his co-workers about why they should support the union and the strike. Many are from other countries and were initially hesitant, he said, but now they’re walking the picket line.