OmniRide drivers who are members of AFSCME Local 3001 (Council 20) in the D.C. area are celebrating wage increases and improvements to their sick leave policy, among other victories codified in a new employment agreement.
The contract, ratified overwhelmingly by the union, was a victory made possible after a three-day strike earlier this month. The strike came after workers rejected a tentative agreement in June, which signaled to their employer, First Transit, that workers were united and would not back down until they were treated fairly.
“We enjoy what we do,” an AFSCME member told WTOP Radio during the strike, on the condition of anonymity. “We’ve been doing this for years. I’ve been here for 20 years working for this company, but they cannot seem to come to the level of appreciation for the service that we’re providing.”
Among other things, the new, three-year agreement includes:
- Up to 28% wage raises, varying by step;
- A friendlier sick leave policy that no longer penalizes a worker for every absence;
- $400 signing bonus upon ratification of the new contract;
- A thorough safety inspection of their vehicles prior to beginning their routes.
The 130 workers represented by Local 3001 serve the Potomac and Rappahannock Transportation Commission (PRTC) bus system, which makes multiple trips every day from Prince William County, Virginia, into the District of Columbia.
"The new tentative agreement represents a giant step forward from previous offers on workplace safety, time off and pay," said Andrew Washington, executive director of AFSCME Council 20. "Local 3001 members are an example of what working people can accomplish when we stand together."
Several elected leaders and hopefuls joined the workers on the picket line. They included Virginia state Sen. Steve Surobell; Virginia Delegate Jennifer Foy; and Prince William County supervisor candidate Margaret Franklin, Prince William County Chair hopeful Ann Wheeler and Quantico Town Council candidate Sammoto Yomosa. Ginny Diamond, president of the Northern Virginia AFL-CIO, and members and staff from the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW) and Office and Professional Employees International Union (OPEIU), participated as well.