Forestville, MD - After a unified and strong nine-day strike, ATU Local 689 MetroAccess workers have reached a tentative contract agreement with private contractor Transdev.
The more than 200 paratransit drivers, utility workers, dispatchers, maintenance workers, and road supervisors, who walked off the job on August 1 after months of intense negotiations, are expected to vote to ratify the contract in the coming days. On Tuesday, ATU International President John Costa joined more than 100 strikers, elected officials, disability advocates, and other supporters at a rally outside of contract talks at the local union hall and spoke directly to Transdev negotiators to give members the contract they deserve. After the rally, the workers packed the negotiations room as both sides began to bargain.
“Our members stood strong and united throughout this process. They braved the heat and the company’s tactics to try and divide us,” said Local 689 President Raymond Jackson. “This strike shows that our members are willing to lay it all on the line for justice. I want to thank the elected officials, all our allies, and our International for coming out and standing with us.”
The new three-year contract with Transdev includes substantial wage increases and improved benefits, including better sick leave, a more secure retirement plan, additional holidays, and other improvements. The workers successfully fought off the company's proposal to offer members less than what their counterparts in Baltimore make and their refusal to enter into a three-year agreement.
“We must still address the issue of privatization of our most vital services like paratransit,” Jackson continued. “WMATA needs to reconsider its relationship with private contractors. It’s not working, and transit workers and riders are being left behind.”
Last year, Local 689 MV Call Center workers went on a one-day strike and were successful in winning a fair contract that helped improve their wages, benefits, and rights on the job. Three weeks ago, Local 689 members at the MetroAccess Hubbard Road facility also voted to strike, if necessary, to win a fair contract. The Local believes that privatization is a misguided approach to public transit, especially for vital services like MetroAccess.
“I am proud of our MetroAccess members. When I visited the picket line, I saw firsthand their strength, unity, and solidarity,” said ATU International President Costa. “The result was a strong contract that recognizes the commitment and dedication of these frontline heroes to provide safe and reliable transportation for our seniors, people with disabilities, and others who rely on MetroAccess. Our members now have a pathway to the middle class for the essential public service they provide. It was an honor to hold the line with you. Together we fought, and together we won!”
This week’s Labor History Today podcast: The St. Vincent Hospital Strike. Last week’s show: A cold wind and a hot summer sit-down.
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“MetroAccess literally kept my mother alive for years,” Prince George’s County Council member Jolene Ivey said at Tuesday morning’s rally for striking MetroAccess workers. “She had to go to dialysis and she was old and my dad was older and he couldn't get her there and she couldn't get herself there. So I am deeply indebted to you, and all of you who are here to support Metro Access and the ATU.” Ivey was just one of the many supporters who turned out Tuesday morning for the spirited rally at ATU 689 headquarters in Forestville. MetroAccess workers have been on strike for over a week now, and the 8:30a rally set the stage for another negotiation session with Transdev after last week’s brief session ended with no movement by the company. “When you don’t do good, your community doesn’t do good,” Maryland Delegate Gabe Acevero (D, 39) told the MetroAccess workers gathered in the union hall to observe contract negotiations. “And what that looks like is good healthcare, good wages, time off to spend with your families, and a safe work environment.” Outside, the rally had taken on a block party vibe as the crowd sang along with the song of the summer of 2022: “Transdev, don’t play with my money!”
- report/photos by Chris Garlock (except for top right by ATU 689)
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ATU Local 689 Strike Picket: Daily for the duration of the strike, 2am – 3pm
3201 Hubbard Rd, Landover, MD 20785 (map)
Support MetroAccess workers on strike! Join the picket line every day including weekends from 2 AM to 3 pm at 3201 Hubbard Rd. in Landover, MD. Bring food, water and ice!
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