Loudoun Commuter bus drivers back strike authorization vote

WASHINGTON — Frustrated over lower pay than drivers for neighboring bus services, among other issues, Loudoun County Transit Commuter Bus drivers have authorized a strike.

No strike is imminent, but the authorization vote last week is a sign that drivers are willing to go on strike if necessary, Amalgamated Transit Union International Joint Industry Council Coordinator John Lyons said.

Some 70 bus operators and maintenance workers unionized earlier this year. Negotiations are scheduled to resume Tuesday over their first collective bargaining agreement with Transdev, the private company that operates commuter bus service for Loudoun County.

The commuter buses are popular direct routes to D.C., Crystal City, Pentagon and Pentagon City.

Lyons said the company had recently increased starting pay and signing bonuses in an attempt to lure more drivers. Union members believe they deserve the same pay as Metrobus and Fairfax Connector drivers.

“We’re still in negotiations; we go back to the bargaining table Tuesday morning. Nobody wants a strike; a strike is always a last resort, but the membership here is frustrated … and they want to resolve this issue,” Lyons said.

Higher pay and benefits would ensure commuters keep the most qualified, experienced and safe drivers behind the wheel, Lyons said.

Transdev did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

If there is no progress in negotiations, workers plan to take their case to Loudoun County leaders.

“We care about our riders. We don’t want to leave anybody stranded. We want to provide the best possible service and we want to attract the best possible employees to provide that service,” Lyons said.

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