The Spark

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

Los Angeles bus drivers:
Same work, less money

Sep 12, 2005

Drivers who work on four MTA (Metropolitan Transportation Authority) bus lines in Los Angeles have been on strike since August 1.

The MTA has been contracting out these four lines, which are in the San Fernando Valley area. On August 1, a new contractor, Transportation Concepts, Inc., took over the lines and immediately imposed cuts in pay, sick leave and vacation time. A veteran driver's hourly pay went from $14 to $10, for example. Those who made $10 before are supposed to make $8.50 now.

Companies changing contractors to pay their workers less for the same work – that's nothing new. It even has a name: "contract shuffling."

MTA officials pretend they have nothing to do with what's going on. "This is a private carrier. They're responsible for their negotiations," said an MTA spokesman.

That the bosses would act like this is not a surprise. But how about union officials? A spokesman for the United Transportation Union, which represents about 5000 bus and train operators who work directly for the MTA said: "Our members have been instructed to report to work and do their jobs." (The striking drivers are Teamsters.)

These officials may all pretend everything is fine and dandy. But the MTA bus drivers – and, for that matter, other MTA workers – can't afford to do that. No matter what union they are in. For, in their striking brothers and sisters, they may well see their own future!