Martha Vineyard Bus Drivers Win Historic 28 Day Strike

After a historic 28 day-long strike on Martha’s Vineyard, bus drivers, members of ATU, are declaring victory after finally forcing the Vineyard Transit Authority and its subcontractor TCI to agree to a union contract. 

The union contract includes immediate raises in the top rate from $23.50-an-hour to $25.50-an-hour effective August 1st. Top rate wages will then increase on August 1, 2020 to $27.00-an-hour. 

The contract also raises new hire wages from $16.50-an-hour to $19.50-an-hour effective August 1st and then up to $20.50 an hour by 2021. The agreement also doubles pay for drivers on holidays. 

The agreement also includes strong security language preventing union work from being outsourced and giving seniority to drivers. 

The first contract follows a nearly five-year-long legal battle by the union to get its the foot in the door. 

“This is a victory for VTA bus drivers and all working families on our island,” said VTA driver Richard Townes.  “The strike worked. We didn’t get everything we deserve, but we got a lot closer to what we need and saw significant improvement from the company’s last offer in early June.”

Townes credited the massive community supports the strikers received from all over the Island to being key to winning the strike. 

“We wouldn’t be here today if it wasn’t for the solidarity of our neighbors and other allies, who rely on and support us year-round,” said Townes. “We still have a lot of work to do together to fix the VTA, but this is a fair contract. Right now we’re ready to get back on the bus and see our riders and friends again and to hopefully develop a mutually respectful and collaborative relationship with the VTA Administrator and TCI, the private contractor, because in our view that’s what’s best for the island.”

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About the Author

Mike Elk
Mike Elk is an Emmy-nominated labor reporter who covered everything from Lula & the Brazilian labor movement to major league baseball. He spent years covering union organizing in the South for The Guardian and was labeled by the New York Times as an "abrasive gadfly" for exposing within the labor movement. Raised in a UE union family in Pittsburgh, Elk was illegally for union organizing at Politico in 2015 and used his NLRB settlement to start the crowd-funded Payday Report. He lives in his hometown of Pittsburgh and is fluent in both Pittsburghese and Portuguese, which he learned when attending journalism school at PUC-Rio de Janerio. Email: [email protected]

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