(Forestville, Maryland) – Following weeks of disdain for the riding public, workers, and Loudoun County Government amidst a strike, Loudoun County Transit’s contractor, Keolis, finally sat down to negotiate Tuesday with workers’ representatives from the Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) Local 689 and the International. Unfortunately, the Company came bringing no substantial offers to the table and walked away with no consequences from Loudoun County government.
Even with weeks of time bought with inexplicable delays, Keolis had shirked bargaining sessions last Thursday and this Monday, with representatives joining calls for less than a half hour each day and claiming they needed more time with financial experts to assess the Union’s offer.
When Keolis representatives finally began bargaining Tuesday, they claimed that the proposals from the Union would cost millions of dollars more than previously estimated. Bafflingly, Keolis failed to provide any data to support its economic proposals and could not say when such data would be available.
“These high-handed tactics will mean that the riding public, and the hardworking workforce of Loudoun County Transit will continue to suffer.” said ATU Local 689 President Raymond Jackson. “Our members move this region. They deserve better. This company had already delayed negotiations when it lied about not being able to meet with us until the 27th. Now they finally come back to negotiate with numbers they can’t justify and disappearing accountants. This is a disgrace.”
With riders suffering, as Loudoun County Transit operates bus service at minimal service amidst a monthlong strike, Keolis’ continual deceit has further prolonged this crisis with their frontline workers and misled Loudoun County Government and the public. Unfortunately, Loudoun County government has so far not levied any fines whatsoever for missed service against Keolis for its continued bad-faith approach which has lengthened the work stoppage.
Keolis had already arbitrarily delayed any kind of negotiations when it gave an unacceptable and substandard offer on January 12th and thereafter refused to set dates to continue bargaining. Instead, it deemed its proposal the “last, best, and final” offer and falsely claimed that it could not further negotiate with the Union until January 27th.
After months of fruitless contract negotiations, the frustrated Loudoun County bus operators, mechanics, dispatchers, and other transit workers had walked off the job on Wednesday, January 11th. On November 9, 2022, they had voted over 96% in favor of authorizing a strike.
“Our Loudoun County Transit members are fed up with the disrespect that Keolis continues to treat them and our riders with. Keolis refuses to give these frontline hero members enough to provide for their families. Shame on Loudoun County for contracting out to a union-busting company that only cares about their profits and shame on them for not fining Keolis for missed service,” said ATU International President John Costa. “We will not back down. This only makes us stand up stronger and more united than ever on our picket lines not only for the fair and just contract we deserve but for our passengers who deserve safe, reliable, and affordable service.”
ATU Local 689 stands ready to negotiate for a fair and equitable contract for its members that will guarantee living wages and decent benefits for all Loudoun County Transit workers. Moreover, the Union maintains that privatization has been a disaster for such a vital public service and that Loudoun County government should use every tool it can to stop Keolis from further bad-faith negotiations.