As supporters of unionism and of public mass transit systems, the Baltimore City / Maryland Green Party offers support and solidarity for the members of Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) in their strikes against the multi-national corporation, TravsDev, which claims to be “the largest private sector operator of multiple modes of transit in North America,” and boasts that it employs more than 20,000 workers “across our North American operations.”
TransDev was contracted by the Washington Area Mass Transportation Authority (WAMATA) to run bus routes, just as the company has been contracted in Baltimore to expand Mobility services. This contracting is one nasty example of the general decline of “public” services—public education, public housing, public parks and recreation.
In the DC area, TransDev paid only about half the salary, with lower benefits, than the regular workers on the Washington Metro System, so the workers organized and, after confronting an outrageous concessionary proposal in negotiations this year, voted to strike.
On December 8, members of ATU Local 1764 marked 46 days on strike at WAMATA’s Cinder Bed Road facility in Lorton, VA. On December 1, more than 600 members of ATU Local 689 walked out at the Fairfax Connector. In negotiations with Cinder Bed on December 5, a dozen ATU presidents from TransDev locals across the country joined the local committee, as more locals have contracts expiring, so this is a national campaign with international implications.
On December 9, members of Local 1764 returned to work, after TransDev agreed not to fire anyone who participated in the strike, but their negotiations continue.
TransDev has contracted to run the Charm City Circulator, an ominous shift away from public control. The retirement of Maryland Transportation Secretary Pete Rahn, who focused on privatizing public highways, and letting the contractors keep all of the tolls, is another sign of this shift.
The Green Party fully supports public mass transit, even more important in the climate crisis, as a way for the 1/3 of Baltimore residents without access to a car to get to work, to shop and to visit. In Kansas City, the City Council has voted to make all public bus service FREE within the city, a policy Maryland should consider implementing in Baltimore City and statewide.
The Green Party sends solidarity to the ATU workers in their strike and asks all of our members and supporters to pitch in. Here is a note from one of the ATU organizers:
“Here’s how you can help:
Help ATU 1764 Connector members by calling Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Chair Sharon Bulova at 703-324-2321. Tell her that the County must rein in Transdev and compel them to quit committing Unfair Labor Practices.
· Picket with 689 in VA (daily): https://facebook.com/events/2310195405775260/
· Picket with 1764 in VA (daily): https://www.facebook.com/events/2310195405775260/
· Donate $ to the 689 strike fund: http://bit.ly/cinderbedstrike
· Donate food to the 689 picket line: http://bit.ly/cinderbedmeals
· Link up with DC JWJ to help with solidarity direct actions: firstname.lastname@example.org.
· Firewood is still key as the weather gets cold. We’ve got more burn barrels now and need kindling and logs.
· Call out @wmata and @transdevna on Twitter and @metroforward on Facebook with words of support for the strikers. Remember to tag @atulocal689 and @atucomm on Twitter or @atulocal689group and @atu1764 on Facebook so we can repost."