What to expect if DC Circulator bus drivers start strike on Sunday

D.C. Circulator bus drivers may strike starting on Sunday, which could impact service next week.

The District Department of Transportation said in a statement that it remains “optimistic that both parties can reach an agreement,” urging both parties to “maintain service operations,” while remaining “at the table.”

“A strike would severely limit and/or interrupt Circulator services along routes,” DDOT said. “In preparation for this possibility, we are working with the contracted operator to develop an adjusted plan for limited service, if possible, and alternatives to assist residents and commuters during any period of service interruption.”

DDOT encourages riders to check its website for bus times for service updates if a strike does happen.

The ATU Local 689 union, representing the D.C. Circulator workers, said in a statement that bus drivers “voted overwhelmingly to authorize a strike if necessary to win them the collective bargaining agreement they deserve.”

The biggest issues at hand are inflation, wages and benefits.

“With years of being underpaid and inflation north of 8%, we knew this contract would need strong wage and benefit improvements to correct the mistakes of the past. But RATP Dev, the multinational private corporation hired by DDOT to manage the operations and maintenance of the D.C. Circulator, consistently acts in bad faith making productive negotiations almost impossible,” Local 689 said in a statement.

The union says that members have been bargaining since March 1.

The union says D.C. Circulator drivers make less than Metrobus drivers by as much as $5.38 an hour at the top rates. That does not factor in benefits.

“RATP Dev has repeatedly refused to pay what other bus operators in this region already make, instead focusing all of its energy on increasing starting pay rates so they can find new operators,” ATU Local 689 said.

It added that the most recent contract proposal would only increase top pay by 6% over the course of a three-year contract.

“DDOT chooses to use its voice to call for both parties to remain at the table. They claim they’re optimistic that both parties can reach an agreement. We haven’t left the table and don’t plan on leaving the table,” the union said. “We believe DDOT would better use its influence by calling on RATP Dev to get serious about bargaining in good faith and put real money on the table.”

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Valerie Bonk

Valerie Bonk started working at WTOP in 2016 and has lived in Howard County, Maryland, her entire life. She's thrilled to be a reporter for WTOP telling stories on air. She works as both a television and radio reporter in the Maryland and D.C. areas. 

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