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Keolis to Striking Loudoun County Transit Workers: Take It or Leave It

Strike Still On After Keolis’ Insulting “Last, Best, and Final” Contract Offer and Refusal to Set New Bargaining Dates

Leesburg, Virginia – Striking Loudoun County Transit workers walked out of contract negotiations after their contractor Keolis put an insulting contract offer on the table and the company refused to set new bargaining dates. Earlier today, members and leadership of Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) Local 689 once again met with representatives of Loudoun County Transit’s private contractor Keolis, in hopes of reaching a fair contract for the workers that would end the work stoppage and get service up and running again. The offer from Keolis did not come close to addressing the key outstanding issues in bargaining, prompting striking Loudoun County Transit workers to leave the room in disgust.

Afterwards, the Union’s negotiators attempted to set new dates to continue bargaining, but Keolis refused to agree to continue talks and insisted that their proposal was their “last, best, and final” offer. The members include over 140 fixed route and commuter bus operators, mechanics, paratransit drivers, dispatchers, and other transit workers that move Loudoun County.

“Keolis’ contract offer was insulting and shameful. This company continues to treat our members with disrespect and disdain and continues to bargain in bad faith,” said ATU Local 689 President Raymond Jackson, who was at the bargaining table. “It’s also an insult to our riders, who Keolis has abandoned with this contract offer. We will continue to stand strong and united on the picket line until our members get the fair and just contract that they deserve.”

After months of fruitless contract talks, the frustrated Loudoun County bus operators, mechanics, dispatchers, and other transit workers walked off the job on Wednesday. On November 9, 2022, they voted over 96% in favor of authorizing a strike.

Keolis has failed to properly staff up in preparation for the opening of the Silver Line Phase II in Loudoun County. This has been primarily due to the low wages and subpar benefits provided by the company that places Loudoun County Transit as the lowest-paying transit agency in the region.

In April 2021, Keolis first took over the operation of the county’s transit service after submitting the lowest bid among all companies vying to win the contract. At that time, Keolis refused to recognize the existence of the Union in the workplace and did not adopt the union contract that was already in place. Keolis unilaterally slashed benefits like retirement and health insurance and began to impose a number of cuts on the workforce, such as the elimination of a weekly guarantee of work hours.

Keolis forced the workers to hold another union election to recertify the bargaining unit. In April of 2022, Loudoun County Transit workers voted 95% in favor of the Union, confirming that they continue to be represented by the ATU. Since then, Keolis has been delaying progress at the bargaining table by continuing to violate federal labor law at a staggering pace, with the National Labor Relations Board having found merit to at least 4 different Unfair Labor Practice Charges against Keolis in Loudoun County.

“Our members will be out there on the picket for as long as it takes,” said ATU International President John Costa. “The colder the weather, the heavier the rain, every day we will only get stronger because that’s what our members are made of. They survived a pandemic. They will survive this strike. ‘One day longer, one day stronger.’ It’s time for Keolis to come back to the table and put a serious offer on the table that recognizes our members for the important role they play in the county.”