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In Historic Victory, Hampton Roads Via Paratransit Workers Vote to Join ATU Local 1177

Virginia workers are first in the nation to successfully organize microtransit company Via, prevailing over America’s largest union-busting law firm 

Hampton Roads, VA – In a historic organizing victory, 129 paratransit operators and fuelers employed by Hampton Roads Transit (HRT) subcontractor Via/Hire Art voted overwhelmingly to join Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) Local 1177, which also represents HRT’s fixed route transit workers. 

This is the first-ever union at microtransit company Via Transportation in the United States. 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 with a contract to operate the region’s door-to-door paratransit, a comparable transit service for people with disabilities required under the Americans with Disabilities Act. 

“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/Business Agent 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 Union says that once the election is certified, they will begin bargaining with Via to get a first collective bargaining agreement. 

Via replaced former contractor MV Transportation, 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. The workers, fearing job loss in the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic and after being subject to a union-busting campaign that promised a better future and more flexibility, ultimately voted against unionizing. 

After seeing their unionized counterparts at HRT, represented by ATU Local 1177, win hazard pay and COVID safety protections, however, Via employees decided in June 2022 that they could no longer afford to wait for the company to make good on its promises. They contacted ATU for help organizing. 

“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 A. 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.”

Via has grown to become a premier, app-based microtransit provider, billing itself to transit agencies across the U.S. as a solution for their scheduling and labor woes. Its anti-union animus was clear to workers from the beginning when it hired the firm Littler Mendelson as its counsel. Littler is known as the largest union-busting law firm in America and has recently made news for its vicious campaign against Starbucks workers organizing with Workers United.