VTA drivers narrowly reject union membership, 21-18

In a very close vote, drivers rejected an attempt to organize as part of the Amalgamated Transit Union, the nation’s largest transit union.

A handful of VTA passes increased in price at the beginning of this year. — File photo by Susan Safford

In a closely contested vote, Vineyard Transit Authority (VTA) bus drivers voted March 18 not to form a collective bargaining unit represented by the Amalgamated Transit Union. The final vote count was 21 against, 18 for union representation.

The drivers work directly for Transit Connection, Inc., (TCI) a vendor which manages drivers under contract with the VTA.

Pay, seniority, and grievance resolution were among the issues that prompted a union vote.

I’m disappointed with the result, but we just have to move on, and see if we can work it out from here,” said Richard Townes, a driver who helped organize the election. “Hopefully things will get better and we’ll work closely with TCI.”

Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) local president Charles Ryan said he respected the decision of the majority.

“I was kind of surprised,” Mr. Ryan said. “It seemed to me the biggest issue was union dues. It wasn’t going to cost them anything until they got a contract. We could have negotiated a contract, seen what they got, and vote on that. If you vote no on the contract, the union goes away. How do you know what you really gave up? They didn’t want to take that shot at it. Hey, I respect the process, I wish them well.”

Under federal labor laws, drivers must wait at least one year before attempting another organizing drive.