Earlier this month, after hearing from Teamsters Local 853 drivers and dispatchers, both Alameda-Contra Costa Transit District (AC Transit) and the Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) opted to delay a five-year renewal of their contract with Transdev. This important move could lead to improved benefits and wages for Teamsters members.
Transdev subcontracts with two companies, First Transit and MV Transportation, that provide services for low-income and disabled residents who rely on them as their only mode of transportation. The drivers and dispatchers at both companies are members of Local 853.
“When Teamsters get involved at the local level, we get results,” said Local 853 Secretary-Treasurer and Teamsters Joint Council 7 President Rome Aloise. “Thanks to drivers and dispatchers taking time out of their day to stand up on behalf of their coworkers and their clients, we now have a greater chance to negotiate a contract that truly reflects the importance of what our membership does for many of the East Bay’s most vulnerable residents.”
“The vote against extending TransDev’s contract is the payoff of almost seven years of political action by Joint Council 7 preparing for this fight,” said Joint Council 7 Political Director Doug Bloch. In 2010, Joint Council 7 helped elect a pro-worker slate of candidates to the AC Transit Board, including the son of a retired Local 853 member, Mark Williams. In 2014 and 2016, Joint Council 7 helped pass two ballot measures to fund transportation projects in the region, including paratransit services.
The current contracts between the Teamsters and the AC Transit/BART subcontractors expire in 2018, and they are looking to make greater gains in wages, benefits and working conditions during negotiations later this year. The decision made by both agencies to delay the five-year extension of their current agreement with Transdev creates an opportunity for Local 853 drivers and dispatchers to negotiate higher wages and better benefits.
Local 853 Business Agent Adolph Felix noted that an increase in wages and benefits wouldn’t just be good for the workers; it would also improve the quality of service for residents who use it.
“Right now, some of the companies are paying for CDL training, but drivers are leaving for other companies shortly after getting training and experience,” Felix said. “Increasing the benefits and wages of our Teamster paratransit workers will go a long way toward reducing turnover and driver shortages. That will mean better and faster service for all of the residents who depend on this as their only means of transportation to get to important places, such as medical appointments and family visits.”