(LANCASTER, Calif.) – Since March 2017, Teamsters Local 848 bus drivers who are jointly employed by the Antelope Valley Transit Authority (AVTA) and their contractor Transdev have conducted Unfair Labor Practice (ULP) strikes to protest their employers’ flagrant and continued disregard for U.S. labor laws. After the drivers’ current strike started on May 3,, the AVTA put out a public statement grossly mischaracterizing the facts of the ongoing labor dispute, which they claim not to be a party to. The statement needlessly threateneds disadvantaged riders with the permanent elimination of free service.
“The AVTA continues to claim that the drivers are striking for a pay raise and nothing could be further from the truth. The drivers are striking to protest AVTA/Transdev’s continued violation of U.S. labor laws and mistreatment of our members,” said Eric Tate, Secretary-Treasurer and Principal Officer of Teamsters Local 848. “It is disingenuous for the AVTA to show concern for their elderly, disabled, veteran and student passengers who rely on free bus service. During this labor dispute they have not attempted to continue local service for them; instead, they have bent over backwards to cover service for their higher paying riders – the professionals who commute to downtown Los Angeles, the San Fernando Valley and Century City.”
In a direct threat to their most disadvantaged riders, AVTA management claims that in order to provide affordable benefits and a modest pay raise for drivers that would bring their wages up to what other transit drivers in the area make over time, they will be required to “gut service and eliminate our free-ride program for AV college students, seniors and veterans.” Meanwhile, the taxpayers of Palmdale and Lancaster are paying ever-higher sales and gas taxes to fund transportation services and projects because of the State Transit Assistance (STA) program, an additional tax on fuel for transportation, and from Measure M, an additional sales tax for transportation.
“Anyone who knows anything about transit financing knows that bus fares only pay for a small percentage of the cost of the operation. To threaten students, seniors and veterans is dishonest and heartless,” continued Tate. “By their statement, the AVTA is implicitly declaring that the agency has absolutely no intention of compensating its drivers at a level comparable to other regional transit drivers, nor does it have the intention of using these revenues to provide subsidized transportation for the region’s most vulnerable residents. What, then, are their plans for this new revenue?”
Oddly, the AVTA has continued to talk publicly about the cost of the workers’ proposals while claiming that they have nothing to do with the drivers, who receive their paychecks from Transdev. On Aug 18, 2016, a federal judge ruled that the AVTA is a joint-employer with Transdev. Clearly they are fooling no one: On May 4,, the Antelope Valley Press specifically stated that the drivers are “jointly employed by the transit agency’s contractor Transdev.” This is further proof that the AVTA is in fact a joint-employer with Transdev and perhaps explains why the AVTA has remained silent while their contractor has continued to violate the National Labor Relations Act and mistreat employees.
Teamsters Local 848 has filed four sets of ULP charges against their employer at the National Labor Relations Board. The drivers’ current ULP strike is a result of driver frustration caused by the two most recent set of charges. The ULPs include:
- Intimidating use of violence and force against drivers;
- Denying drivers their anniversary wage increases;
- Using replacement workers to do drivers’ work when there is no strike; and
- Refusing to process drivers’ grievances.
These unilateral changes by the employer, in retaliation for union and protected concerted activity, and without notice and bargaining with the drivers’ union, constitute egregious unfair labor practices in violation of the law.
Visit www.Teamsters848.org and www.ToxicBus.com for more information. Follow us on Twitter @Teamsters848 and “like” us on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/teamsters848/ and https://www.facebook.com/ToxicBus.
Founded in 1903, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters represents 1.4 million hardworking men and women throughout the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico. Visit www.teamster.org for more information. Follow us on Twitter @Teamsters and “like” us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/teamsters.