The Spark

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.” — Karl Marx

Strike Shuts Down Buses in D.C. Suburb

Nov 11, 2019

On October 24th bus drivers, mechanics and utility workers at the Cinder Bed Road Metrobus facility in Northern Virginia walked off their jobs. This is the first strike at Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) in forty years. A year ago WMATA outsourced Cinder Bed to Transdev, a French multinational that specializes in taking over public transportation systems and slashing wages and benefits.

Workers at Cinder Bed are demanding that they receive the same pay and benefits as WMATA workers. They drive the same routes, on the same roads, with the same buses as WMATA, but they receive about half the take-home pay as WMATA workers just because they work for a private contractor. That’s not all, Transdev workers’ health insurance comes with a $6,000 deductible. The deductible for WMATA workers is ZERO! So WMATA essentially has a two-tier workforce.

WMATA workers have every reason to join with Transdev workers. Last year WMATA’s unionized membership voted by 94% to go on strike after Metro management violated its contract by outsourcing work to private contractors.

The working conditions and safety are issues for all Metro workers. They all drive the same falling-apart, unsafe buses. Workers also don’t get enough break time, forcing many WMATA bus and train operators to wear adult diapers while on the job.

ATU (Amalgamated Transit Union) Local 689 workers are right to fight back. Clearly. Transdev workers are drawing the line.