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.