Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1177 has been fighting for its members for more than 82 years.
In 1942, Local 1177 forged their first contract with Virginia Electric and Power Company. It set the Drivers' hourly pay at $0.73 and Mechanic First Class' hourly pay at $0.98. (The mechanics made more because they have fewer opportunities for overtime.) However the Company refused to recognize the Union and refused to abide by the Contract.
Local President Henry L. Johnson filed charges with the War Labor Board, which compelled the Company to accept the contract. The first contract was finally arbitrated and signed on June 7, 1943, just in time to begin negotiating their second one-year contract.
Virginia Electric and Power Company had been fighting the Local since before they were chartered. So it was no surprise when the Company ignored the second contract as well. The members did not want to wait for another year of delays, so they voted to strike. The Local's first strike lasted from 4:30 a.m. October 21, 1942 to 3:00 p.m. that same day. During the strike the War Labor Board contacted President Johnson and promised him that the WLB would expedite his case. The following month, the WLB again compelled the Company to recognize the second contract.
When Local 1177 began negotiating their third contract with Virginia Electric and Power Company, they delayed negotiations by selling the company to Virginia Transit Company on December 29, 1944. President Johnson again filed charges against the Company, and the War Labor Board forced the new company to honor this contract too. Over the years, each new Contract has been a contentious game of Tug-of-War.
In June 2021 the members of 1177 were exhausted and frustrated. The Company had been using Mandatory Overtime to force the drivers and mechanics to work seven days a week. Although this article has always been in the Contract as a temporary provision, HRT has been using it to make up for long-term employee shortages for more than seven years. On October 30, 2015 President Malone contacted WTKR News about drivers being overworked. After the story went public, the Company agreed to give the drivers one day off each week. Today, six years later, conditions still have not improved.
For the most recent contract, the Negotiating Committee presented a package containing 55 proposed changes to the existing contract. The Committee researched and presented a justification for each change.
After the third round of negotiations the Local and the Company were deadlocked over the pay raise. The Local wanted a straight 15 percent raise over the three years of the contract. While the Company wanted to give them an 9.5 percent raise, with a $2.25 attendance bonus awarded for hours actually worked. This bonus for "hours actually worked" would make it difficult for employees to plan their annual budget.
To subvert the final round of negotiations, the Company mailed letters to every hourly employee suggesting that the 9.5 percent raise was their final offer. President Malone told the union members to draw a big red X on the letter and write "REJECTED" then mail the letters back to the CEO.
Another tactic that President Malone used was to live stream the final round of negotiations on the Union’s Facebook page. Also during the final round the Union presented a chart that was produced by International Vice President Curtis Howard. The chart showed that among the six surrounding companies, our drivers are paid the least.
In the end we won several big changes:
We will receive two additional bereavement days (5 total) if we have to travel more than 300 miles.
We added Juneteenth as a paid holiday.
We received an historic 11.5 percent raise over three years. Previously we had received three to five percent raises over three years. Plus we included a $2.25 per hour worked Attendance Premium (or Hazard Pay). While other unions received a one time payment, if anything, we have enshrined this bonus in our contract for three years.
Operators' Uniform allowance was increased from $350 to $450.
Instructor premium was doubled to $2 per hour.
Night shift premium for mechanics is now $3 per hour.
Mechanics' shoe & Jacket allowance is $300, plus $475 Tool Allowance.
We finally got the Company's $2,500 HSA contribution in writing.
We retained our once-each-year .5 percent (of your annual pay) Health Fair bonus.
Our top pay was $21.69 in the previous contract. Now top pay (including Attendance Premium) is $25.13. In June 2022 it will be $25.82, and June 2023 top pay will be $26.53.
If we continue to work together there is no telling how much we can accomplish in the next 83 years. If you have any changes you would like to see in the next contract you can present them at the Union Meeting or email firstname.lastname@example.org.