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In Historic Victory, Microtransit Contractor Via Paratransit Workers Vote to Join Local 1177-Norfolk, VA

In an historic organizing victory, 129 paratransit workers employed by Hampton Roads Transit (HRT) subcontractor Via/Hire Art voted overwhelmingly to join our Local 1177-Norfolk, VA. This is the first-ever organized workers at microtransit company Via in the U.S. 

“I want to welcome our new ATU brothers and sisters at Via to our Union family. This is a historic win for our Union and the entire labor movement,” said ATU International President John Costa. “Microtransit companies like Via are poised to have a big impact on our industry, and our Union is committed to ensuring they maintain family-sustaining union jobs in the process. If they try not to, like they did in Hampton Roads, we’ll be there to fight alongside any workers demanding the rights, wages, and working conditions they deserve.”

A New York-based software company, Via describes itself as “the world’s most powerful digital infrastructure for public transportation.” In 2020, HRT awarded Via, replacing MV Transportation, with a contract to operate the region’s paratransit in the process displacing more than one hundred employees represented by the International Brotherhood of Teamsters. Via brought in a new crop of workers by advertising an $18/hour promotional wage, only to phase out the promotion and reduce the wages to $12/hour after a date for a new union election had been set.

“Via thought they could come to HRT and make these paratransit workers some of the lowest people in their profession nationwide,” said Local 1177 President John Reid. “We weren’t going to stand by and let that happen. We’re facing a big shortage of workers, and it’s partly because corporations like Via think they can work you 12 hours a day without a break for a paycheck that won’t cover groceries.” The Local will begin bargaining to get a first collective bargaining agreement. 

Via’s anti-union animus was clear to our members from the beginning, when it hired the largest union-busting law firm Littler Mendelson as its counsel. Littler ran a vicious campaign against Starbucks workers organizing with Workers United.