Bus drivers for the Greater Richmond Transit Company in Virginia reportedly carried out an unsanctioned work action earlier this week. Drivers are angry that they aren’t seeing the raises they were promised.
Drivers are refusing to work overtime and calling in sick. Earlier this week, the runs from Church Hill to Downtown were delayed by three hours.
GRTC and the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1220 reached a contract on July 31st, but workers still aren’t seeing the benefits. The contract calls for a pay increase of $1.10 an hour for drivers over the next three years. This pittance can hardly be called a raise and doesn’t keep up with the cost of living. GRTC hasn’t told their employees exactly when they will implement the pay raise.
Union President Frank Tunstall III has acknowledged that some drivers were upset about the slow implementation of the raise. While GRTC is denying that a work slowdown by the drivers took place, Tunstall has admitted that the protests are happening. The slowdown isn’t sanctioned by the union.
Tunstall, like a typical union bureaucrat, has been trying to convince the drivers to end their slowdown because it is against the agreement of their new contract. However, one driver told the Richmond Free Press that the actions will continue “until we get our money.”
The entire local media, with the exception of the Richmond Free Press, ignored the action. The media is probably working with the local government to prevent a wave of wildcat strikes and unsanctioned actions by city workers. The GRTC slowdown comes on the heels of the wildcat strike by city sanitation workers last month. It is clear that officials from the city and surrounding counties are intentionally mismanaging public services so they can privatize them or hire workers from an employment agency to work for less money.
Even police officers, firefighters, and teachers have complained about their pay to the media and Richmond City Council throughout the course of the past year. Those who can get job offers in other areas aren’t hesitating to pack up their bags and leave town. Last year, a firefighter told City Council that one of his friends was offered a better position in Detroit and he took it! It should speak volumes that a broken, decaying city like Detroit is making better offers to its employees than Richmond.
Spread the news of the slowdown as widely as possible, especially among employees of the Richmond government. The workers don’t need the union, the bosses, or the politicians to tell them what is in their best interests. The future salvation of the working-class will come from their own actions and their own, independent committees, and not the bureaucratic or political class.