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GRTC union drivers protest proposed route changes

Published: Nov. 8, 2021 at 9:54 PM EST|Updated: Nov. 8, 2021 at 9:55 PM EST
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RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - Nearly two dozen people gathered outside of GRTC’s headquarters to protest service changes Monday morning. Those protesters are members of the Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) Local 1220.

Union drivers were calling for higher pay and more protections. The demonstration comes after the Union’s continued negotiations with the company due to changes that will be coming next month.

The service changes include decreasing routes with low ridership to address the company’s current labor shortage.

In a press release sent out Monday afternoon, GRTC says it’s trying to increase reliability for customers by reducing how often their buses arrive at the Pulse stops and 14 other routes. while also combing other routes with high ridership.

Union member Maurice Carter says that drivers are also worried about their jobs being outsourced and says the Union doesn’t feel like their pleas are being heard.

”We are going to be out here every day until we can get management to come out and talk to us and not tell us basically this is how it’s going to take it or leave it, if not go find a job somewhere else,” said Carter. “We’re tired of being told that.”

In the press release, GRTC says efforts to recruit new employees to relieve the current service burden from staff and riders have heightened.

“We are all feeling the cumulative strain of the ongoing pandemic. GRTC had been able to minimize service disruptions last year, and we were hoping that Fall 2021 would be the turning point for all of us with the broad availability of the vaccine,” GRTC CEO Julie Timm explained in a statement.

“Unfortunately, that was just not the case. We are now at a critical moment to adjust service to levels that we can reliably deliver so that operators and riders alike are not continually burdened by the heightened stress of unreliable service.”

The company says protecting its current workforce GRTC has added extra paid sick pay, quarantine pay, and vaccination pay among other pay increases and bonuses.

Union drivers say they plan to keep protesting until they have more of a say in the service changes slated to go into effect in December.

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