AVTA Bus Drivers Offer to Return to Work, Resume Service Immediately; AVTA Stages 2-day Lockout, Keeps Service Down Until Thursday

AVTA Strike Update
  • Striking Antelope Valley Bus Drivers File Unfair Charges to Stop Unreasonable Working Conditions Leveled by Transdev

  • Drivers Make Unconditional Offer to Return to Work and Resume Service Immediately; AVTA Stages a Two-day Lockout and Keeps Bus Service Down Until Thursday

Lancaster, CA – On Monday, May 8, 2017, at 9:30 AM, striking Antelope Valley Transit Authority (AVTA) bus drivers, who are jointly employed by AVTA contractor Transdev, advised their employer of their desire to end the strike and resume service immediately; however, in an act of retaliation, the company informed the drivers’ union that they would not resume bus service until Thursday, needlessly leaving bus riders stranded. This is the second time AVTA and Transdev have retaliated against the drivers for exercising their rights under labor law (during the drivers’ prior two-day strike, the AVTA stated they would be undergoing a reorganization over the weekend thus they could not run service).

The drivers’ union, Teamsters Local 848, has filed charges with the California Public Employment Relations Board (PERB) to obtain a formal ruling from that agency consistent with a federal judge’s ruling relating to AVTA’s status as a “joint employer” with Transdev (the AVTA has insisted that they have nothing to do with their drivers and has remained silent as their contractor has repeatedly violated the National Labor Relations Act and mistreated the drivers, while continuously talking publicly about the cost of the workers’ proposals and otherwise acting as a “joint employer”).

“AVTA bus drivers simply cannot continue to put up with the mistreatment and law-breaking of AVTA/Transdev and have had no choice but to file charges and withhold their labor,” said Eric Tate, Secretary-Treasurer, Teamsters Local 848. “After three and a half days on the picket line, the drivers have decided to resume service to help AVTA passengers get to their appointments after the agency shut down all service due to their inability to prepare for the picketing. Unfortunately, the company has decided not to resume bus service until Thursday to punish the drivers. These disruptions fall squarely on the back of the AVTA, which must end the law-breaking – and demand that their contractor end the law-breaking – and treat the drivers with the respect they have earned.”

The drivers’ union, Teamsters Local 848, has filed four sets of unfair labor practice charges against their employer at the National Labor Relations Board. The drivers’ current Unfair Labor strike is a result of the two most recent set of charges manifesting driver frustration with the Employer’s latest unfair labor practices, including:

 

  • 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 driver’s union, constitute egregious unfair labor practices in violation of the law.

Background

Antelope Valley Transit Authority (AVTA) bus drivers, who are jointly employed by AVTA contractor Transdev, have had enough with the company’s proposal to violate L.A. City and County minimum wage ordinances, low pay, lousy benefits, unfair and horrendous working conditions, and denial of our civil rights. The drivers, who negotiate their pay, benefits, and working conditions together as a community through Teamsters Local 848, have been bargaining for months – and working without a union contract since the extension expired on Feb. 28, 2017.

While the drivers have bargained in good faith with their employer, the same cannot be said for Transdev, which has repeatedly broken U.S. labor law – violations known as “Unfair Labor Practices.” The drivers have been left no choice but to escalate their demands for respect and justice, voting overwhelmingly to go on strike against the company. AVTA passengers should be prepared to find alternative means of transportation.

Pay and benefits have gotten so bad that since August 2015, Transdev has been unable to retain new drivers, leaving the company severely under-staffed. Drivers are being forced to fill in by working massive amounts of mandatory overtime, robbing them of needed rest before returning behind the wheel the next day. Many drivers are forced to work extra days every week and must beg for a day off to get rest and spend time with family.

And it’s not just the pay and benefits – the working conditions, specifically toxic buses that spew dangerous fumes into the bus interior, are horrific for drivers and passengers alike.

This under-staffing, mandatory overtime, and toxic buses have left current drivers exhausted, and both drivers and passengers physically ill. This has become a public health and safety crisis for the Antelope Valley, and the drivers are fighting to resolve these issues through contract negotiations. The open issues the drivers, represented by Teamsters Local 848, are fighting for are:

  • Cease and desist from Unfair Labor Practices violating federal law;
  • An end to mandatory overtime to protect from driver fatigue;
  • A healthy worker environment by replacing toxic buses;
  • Compensation in compliance with the law and equal to what other local transit drivers earn (e.g., Santa Clarita Transit and LADOT);
  • Progressive discipline;
  • Due Process Rights; and
  • Picket Line Protection (the right not to cross a picket line).

In addition to the unfair labor practice charges filed at the NLRB< the Drivers are also standing up and fighting back by:

  1. Filing complaints against AVTA and Transdev with Cal-OSHA for unhealthy working conditions and negligent maintenance of their buses. A class action lawsuit is in the process of being prepared on behalf of the drivers for damage to their health, including lungs and respiratory system. Passengers that are suffering from the same issues are encouraged to support the lawsuit.
  2. The drivers’ Union has filed a complaint against AVTA with PERB for bad faith bargaining because the AVTA is a “joint employer” with Transdev and needs to be held accountable for labor law violations.
  3. The drivers are standing strong to protect their right to progressive discipline and picket line safety.
  4. Drivers are striking to demand that the company follow labor laws. Transdev tried to pay drivers below minimum wage but, after the Union filed Unfair Labor Practice charges against the company, they have now increased their offer to at or just above minimum wage. Meanwhile, the Company is engaging in other egregious unfair labor practices and harming drivers’ health and safety from driving toxic buses to working mandatory overtime, and violating due process rights. Mandatory overtime is occurring because Transdev can’t attract or retain quality professional drivers. If the Company meets drivers’ demands, drivers will come and stay.
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