VTA drivers protest at Five Corners

12

A group of Vineyard Transit Authority (VTA) drivers received honks of support at Five Corners in Vineyard Haven Saturday as they held up signs declaring their desire to join a union.

The Amalgamated Transit Union (AMU) is in contract negotiations with the VTA’s parent company, Transit Connection Inc. (TCI) to come up with a contract for the drivers. The process has been three years in the making, after several lengthy legal battles. Many of the drivers are eager to see a change in their work environment.

“[The VTA] has unfair labor practices … they refuse to negotiate with the union,” Roland Goulart, a VTA driver of 19 years, said. “There hasn’t been a pay increase in five years … it takes 14 years to get maxed out at 50 cents per hour per raise … they don’t adjust for inflation or cost of living.”

It wasn’t only drivers that showed up to the protest. Tim Stobie, a retired Tisbury police officer, and his dog Lucy came out to show support for the VTA drivers. “They need a lot of things straightened up,” he said; “with a little luck, this might work … they should at least talk with them and work something out.”

Deborah Carruthers, a part-time Vineyard Haven resident, was passing by when she saw the drivers and their signs. She stayed to get more information and to listen to the drivers’ situation. “So what can I do?” she said.

Petar Petyoshin, a VTA driver, told Carruthers, “Everybody has a voice.”

“I could be out driving [for Uber] right now making money, but instead I’m here protesting for what’s right,” Petyoshin, a father of three who drives for the VTA, Lyft, and Uber, and works for the Oak Bluffs water district, told The Times.

Photo editor Gabrielle Mannino contributed to this report.

12 COMMENTS

  1. This is the kind of thing that can happen when ownership, authority and responsibility get fragmented. The entire model of the VTA is flawed. The VTA will rightly respond that it does not negotiate with unions because it has insulated itself by hiring outside management. Islanders should be disgusted that the drivers cannot negotiate a contract locally.

  2. “I could be out driving [for Uber] right now making money”

    Speaking as a member of the public:
    If you are worth more driving for Uber, drive for Uber!

    But don’t try to force us to overpay you just because you and everyone else wants more money. “I want more money” and “I am worth more” ARE NOT THE SAME. If you don’t like your job, find a new job; everyone is hiring and the economy is booming. If you DO like your job–perhaps because of the hours, skills, benefits, physical attributes, etc–then stop comparing it to different jobs.

    • You missed the point of his comment. What he was saying was that this issue was so important to him that he was giving up income from UBER to spend some time protesting the VTA. The VTA pays so little they can’t attract drivers forcing some drivers to work over 70 hours a week. That’s not only illegal but creates a very dangerous situation for all of us on the roadway. They have also spent close to $100k of taxpayers money to help a private company fight the union.

    • I do admire your “laissez-faire” thinking, but also keep in mind the workers should also have the right to organize, negotiate and even strike if they think it in their best interests – that’s the game. The real interesting question becomes – would the islanders support a strike if it happened?

      • Hanley— I am cautiously optimistic that new have common ground on more issues than this— your question about islanders supporting the drivers is in my mind a resounding yes– A few extra dollars to them means a world of difference— the extra quarter , or dollar to summer tourist would not stop them from riding the bus if they would lower themselves so far– but I think it is below the mindset of the upper class tourist to ever set foot on a bus.

        • Well over a million riders a year “lower” themselves to ride the VTA. No islander without a VTA pass should ever complain about traffic.

        • For way too long the islanders have tolerated the exploitation of labor to serve what they imagine are their own interests, in this case cheap local transportation. But taken together with many other such economic relationships it adds up to a servile society. Islanders continue to be forced to leave and cheap, powerless, and sometimes illegal replacements arrive. Quasi government/corporate entities like the VTA are set up to be insulated from the realities of worker/management relationships.

        • Republican and Democrat leadership alike detest populism; stop calling Trump a Republican and experience clarity of vision.

  3. The drivers I’ve ridden with have all been professional and offer a needed island service. It’s disgusting that the VTA treats them like seasonal help. The business practices of the VTA in dealing with the drivers are far more horrible than simply a temporary PR nightmare.

  4. the vta should recognize the realities of the 21 St century— wealthy tourist do not want to get on a bus —
    we should put into place some sort of monorail, or in places, gondolas — yup– really expensive up front, but I think payback would cover all expenses pretty quickly.

    • I can see it now – air lift cable gondola service from SSA to the beach; probably wouldn’t look any worse than those new power poles.

Comments are closed.