From the September-October 2017 issue of News & Letters
Pomona, Calif.—Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) mechanics at the Foothill Transit operations yard in Pomona went on strike on the morning of Aug. 7. They were unhappy with their employer, Keolis Transit Services, and its attempt to strong-arm them into accepting a four-year labor contract.
Pomona’s bus operators, although represented by Teamsters, decided to join the picket line. Mechanics and drivers congregated in front of the gate, preventing any buses from exiting the yard.
‘NOT ONE BUS PULLED OUT’
“We’ve been out here since midnight,” said one of the picketing workers. “Not one bus has pulled out of this place. And they ain’t gonna run until we get what we want. What do we want? A contract.”
Operators at a Foothill Transit yard in nearby Arcadia, Calif., are employed by a different contractor, but they are members of the same ATU local as Pomona mechanics. On Monday morning, the Arcadia drivers made extra runs on their own routes to assist stranded riders, but did not drive any of Pomona’s 19 routes. Failure to operate the routes for one morning likely brought fines in excess of $1 million for Keolis.
FORCING MANAGEMENT’S HAND
A memorandum of understanding was reached around 11:00 AM, ending the strike. Negotiations are now reportedly underway on a two-year contract that will allow the workers to renegotiate a new contract in 2019, concurrent with a raise in the California minimum wage.
It appears that the bus operators in Pomona did not act on instructions from Teamsters, but were spurred by their own recognition that unity is necessary in order to win results. The union made no public comments about the day’s events until later that evening, when a statement was issued congratulating workers on their success.