December 3, 2010 Volume 111 Number 23

Bend Area Transit terminates union leader

Vic Gilardin, the top union officer at Bend Area Transit, has been fired for what he says are pretextual causes, after months of stepped-up scrutiny from management.

Non-profit Paratransit Services, based in Bremerton, Washington, has the contract to manage the Central Oregon city’s transit agency. It fought employees attempts to join Amalgamated Transit Union Local 757 in 2007.

After a long fight, the union was able to obtain a three-year contract in 2008. But Gilardin, the bargaining unit’s liaison to the Local 757 Executive Board, says management continued to target him for minor infractions. At the beginning of November, he was terminated — told it was for having made right and left turns incorrectly. Gilardin, 60, has driven a bus for 25 years, first in Concord, California and Las Vegas, Nevada, and for the last five years in Bend. He says he never received any discipline prior to his involvement in the union.

Gilardin has filed a grievance charging wrongful termination, and said the union is looking at filing unfair labor practice charges with the National Labor Relations Board.

In the meantime, as a diehard unionist, he’s looking for other work at union workplaces.

Starting in January, he expects to get $366 a week of unemployment benefits, but that’s less than half his previous income. Still, Gilardin’s wife remains employed at the transit agency as a dispatcher, and Gilardin says he has no regrets.

“My wife and I talked about it, and she said, ‘keep up the fight,’ ” Gilardin said. “Without a union, a company can do whatever they want.”

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