Two months after Fairfax Connector bus drivers and maintenance workers in Virginia returned to their jobs following a brief strike, more than 500 members of the Amalgamated Transit Union are threatening to walk off their jobs again on Thursday.
Fairfax Connector carries 30,000 riders a day on 91 different routes. It’s administered by Fairfax County and operated and maintained by the French company Transdev.
“Transdev is back to doing what they do best — stalling. They’re not bargaining fair again,” said John Costa, Amalgamated Transit Union International president.
The county helped negotiate a return-to-work agreement in December, but members of ATU Local 1764 continue to work without a contract. The union said talks remain far apart on wages, health care and retirement benefits.
“Transdev needs to settle a contract here. They need to quit with their unfair labor practices; they need to level with the union and start showing their employees the respect that they deserve,” said John Ertl, ATU labor negotiator.
Transdev signed a five-year contract in July to operate Fairfax County’s bus system, the largest local bus system in Northern Virginia.
The labor union said that it is committed to bargaining with Transdev, but that riders should be ready for the possibility of a strike as soon as Thursday.
“Commuters need to prepare, and that’s why we have the 72-hour notice. We don’t want to have this disruption either, but Transdev has really given us no choice. We need to get Transdev to stop with their unfair labor practices and give us a fair contract, or there will be a strike,” Ertl said.
Transdev told WTOP the following in a statement:
“We were disappointed to receive notification from the ATU of their intent to exercise their right to strike. The notice was received immediately prior to our scheduled February 17th, 18th and 19th negotiating sessions which had been scheduled by mutual agreement over a month ago. Transdev believes a fair and equitable agreement can be reached through good faith negotiations without the need to resort to a service disruption.”
WTOP has reached out to Fairfax County for comment.