Antelope Valley Transit Authority bus riders were left without service Friday when Teamsters Local 848 — representing some 150 drivers, road supervisors and dispatchers in Lancaster — walked off the job, alleging unfair labor practices by Transdev, the AVTA’s service contractor.
“AVTA’s local and commuter services were suspended today at 9 a.m. due to a sudden strike action taken by Teamsters Local 848 against AVTA’s contractor Transdev. AVTA had no advance notice of this work stoppage,” according to a statement posted by the transit agency on its website.
“AVTA is deeply disappointed that the Teamsters Local 848 decided to strike and, in the process, disrupt the lives of thousands of AVTA customers that rely on our transit services to get to work, medical appointments and other daily needs.
“AVTA will do everything we can to minimize the impact of this work stoppage.”
The agency statement stressed that the dispute is between the union and the contractor and does not involve AVTA.
“Although this impacts our riders and our community in a major way, the Teamsters’ dispute is with Transdev,” according to the agency. “… AVTA has no legal role in these negotiations.”
The union, in a statement, said that during contract negotiations that were stalled for several months, Transdev “abruptly announced that they were leaving the Antelope Valley Transit Authority and would not be submitting a bid to renew their service agreement with AVTA.”
In addition, the union statement said, “Transdev refused to bargain the effects of their closure with Teamsters Local 848 as required by law.”
According to the union, Transdev also threatened to reverse wage increases that had been approved by the AVTA Board of Directors and threatened to lock out Transdev employees represented by Local 848 if a work stoppage occurred.
The union said its workers had voted to authorize an unfair labor practices strike and had notified the contractor.
“Instead, Transdev doubled down and directly informed the membership of their threats” — which led to Friday’s walkout, the union said.
“Members were outraged and stopped providing service in the Antelope Valley beginning (Friday) morning,” the union statement said.
Meanwhile, the AVTA statement said union operators received an average 32% increase as of Jan. 1, 2022, but that “despite this substantial increase from Transdev, the union is demanding more.”
Transdev, with a corporate headquarters in Lombard, Illinois, could not immediately be reached.
AVTA provides local, commuter and dial-a-ride service to residents of Lancaster and Palmdale as well as some unincorporated areas of northern Los Angeles County.
In a statement on the transit agency’s website, AVTA Chairman of the Board Marvin Crist said, “AVTA’s position remains firm. We urge the Teamsters to return to the bargaining table and immediately cease actions that harm the most vulnerable. Work stoppages do nothing to advance their cause.”
Riders can also sign up for alerts at the AVTA website. The AVTA’s customer service phone number 661-945-9445.