Loudoun County transit workers on strike for a third day are set to be joined Friday by county leaders as they negotiate with a private contractor.
Loudoun County transit workers strike on Jan. 13, 2023.
The strike has halted many transit routes. Silver Line bus routes and all commuter bus routes won’t run on Friday, plus local bus Route 70 will be altered, the county says. Paratransit has not been affected. Here’s a full list of changes.
Nearly three dozen routes were suspended Thursday, leaving many passengers stranded.
The striking workers are demanding better pay and benefits from their employer, Keolis, but negotiations are fraught.
Union leader Troy Barnes said Thursday’s negotiations were “pretty terrible,” alleging the company’s representatives said the workers could take or leave a proposed contract.
Barnes said that Loudoun County Board of Supervisors Chair Phyllis J. Randall is set to join their protest on Friday.
He hopes Randall’s appearance will “show this company that they can’t come here on the backs of Loudoun County, trying to get whatever money they can from Loudoun County,” Barnes said.
Keolis said it is steadfast in providing competitive wages and comprehensive benefits packages and raised wages between 15% and 30% in June 2022.
Senior Transit Driver David Painter said the raise isn’t enough after benefits and 401k plans were cut.
“We’re asking just for a fair contract that everyone else in the region has got,” Painter said. “When we got here we were underpaid. We were told we were going to get a fair contract, and they just gave us a few dollars an hour for a talking point for their side.”
Bus operator Sandra Vigil said Thursday that workers can’t afford to live in Loudoun County anymore. She said workers are moving to places an hour or more away.
“We have families. We live here in Loudoun County. We cannot afford to live here any longer,” Vigil said. “I know we’re out here, and we’ve stranded our passengers. This is not something we wanted to do. We were forced to do this.”
Stay with News4 for more on this developing story.