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‘Promises Broken': Loudoun County Officials Meet Transit Workers on Strike for Third Day

NBC Washington D.C. 1/13/2023 Juliana Valencia, News4 Reporter and Sophia Barnes
Loudoun County transit workers strike on Jan. 13, 2023. © Provided by NBC Washington D.C.

Loudoun County transit workers strike on Jan. 13, 2023.

Loudoun County transit workers on strike for a third day were joined by local officials who voiced support for their cause.

Loudoun County Board of Supervisors Chair Phyllis J. Randall and District Supervisor Juli Briskman visited protesters on Friday.

"When we gave Keolis this contract, there were some promises made. And then there were some promises broken. And that is why I'm out here standing with these workers — because that is never OK with me," Randall said.

"What I am most concerned about is not only the pay rate, making sure that is comparable to the region, but also the benefits in vacation, retirement and health care," Briskman said.

The strike has halted many transit routes. Silver Line bus routes and all commuter bus routes won't run on Friday, plus local bus Route 70 will be altered, the county says. Paratransit has not been affected. Here’s a full list of changes.

Nearly three dozen routes were suspended Thursday, leaving many passengers stranded.

The striking workers are demanding better pay and benefits from their employer, Keolis, but negotiations are fraught.

Union leader Troy Barnes said Thursday’s negotiations were “pretty terrible,” alleging the company’s representatives said the workers could take or leave a proposed contract.

Barnes hopes leaders' appearance will “show this company that they can’t come here on the backs of Loudoun County, trying to get whatever money they can from Loudoun County,” Barnes said.

Keolis said it is steadfast in providing competitive wages and comprehensive benefits packages and raised wages between 15% and 30% in June 2022.

Senior Transit Driver David Painter said the raise isn’t enough after benefits and 401k plans were cut.

“We're asking just for a fair contract that everyone else in the region has got,” Painter said. “When we got here we were underpaid. We were told we were going to get a fair contract, and they just gave us a few dollars an hour for a talking point for their side.”

Bus operator Sandra Vigil said Thursday that workers can’t afford to live in Loudoun County anymore. She said workers are moving to places an hour or more away.

“We have families. We live here in Loudoun County. We cannot afford to live here any longer,” Vigil said. “I know we’re out here, and we’ve stranded our passengers. This is not something we wanted to do. We were forced to do this.”

Stay with News4 for more on this developing story.

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