Transdev workers at WMATA’s Cinder Bed Bus Garage will go out on strike Thursday morning at 3:30a, in protest of the company’s unfair labor practices. This is the first strike at WMATA since 1978. The union has been in negotiations since February.
The first privately operated WMATA bus garage in more than 40 years, Cinder Bed is managed by Transdev, a French multinational corporation that specializes in taking over public transportation systems and slashing wages and benefits. Transdev bus operators and maintenance workers at Cinder Bed have been repeatedly subject to illegal surveillance of peaceful picket actions which have made reaching a fair contract for these workers impossible.
The Cinder Bed Bus Garage services around 5% of MetroBus routes. Cinder Bed routes include the REX, 29K, 29G, 29H, 29C, 29N, 29W, 17B, 17G, 17H, 17M, 17K, S80, S91, 18P, 18G, 18J, and 18H. Workers voted unanimously in August to authorize a strike if the bargaining team thought it was necessary.
Cinder Bed Bus Garage is located at 7901 Cinder Bed Rd, Lorton, VA 22079. The picket line will begin at 3:30 AM.
Workers at Cinder Bed Road are demanding that they receive the same pay and benefits that other regional bus operators make. The Local 689 members at Cinder Bed drive the same routes, on the same roads, with the same buses as WMATA, but they earn $12 per hour less than other operators in the region just because they work for a private contractor. Transdev workers at Cinder Bed are provided health insurance with a $6,000 deductible while WMATA employees don’t have a deductible. The Transdev workers are also demanding improvements to safety and working conditions, including guaranteed times for pre-trip safety inspections.
Transit workers across the region are fighting back against the poor working conditions and low pay of private transportation companies. Cinder Bed’s strike authorization vote was the fourth approved strike authorization in the DC region (DASH, PRTC, Challenger, & Transdev) since May.
“Transdev and WMATA cut corners at every turn with the Cinder Bed Facility. These workers are toiling at far lower hourly wages than their public sector MetroBus counterparts despite driving the same vehicles on the same routes,” said ATU International President John Costa. “The Cinder Bed workers have walked off the job because they’ve had enough. They are fed up with being used as pawns for austerity-minded politicians that want to ‘cut-costs’ on the backs of workers and riders while Transdev is raking in profits off their low wages.”
“Cinder Bed workers are fed up with being mistreated. Transit jobs in this region have been a pathway to the middle class for nearly 40 years, but companies like Transdev refuse to provide their workers enough money to put food on the table. WMATA needs to realize that this is the human cost of privatization.” said ATU Local 689 President and Business Agent Raymond Jackson. “These workers are going to stand strong and show Transdev and WMATA that they deserve nothing less than what every other bus operator makes in this area.”
photo: ATU President John Costa joined with AFL-CIO Exec. VP Tefere Gebre, MineWorkers President Cecil Roberts and union members in Northern Virginia to rally support for ATU Local 689 Cinder Bed workers on October 19.