Charter bus firm would rather give up contract than operate union

Photo by Jason McHuff, Creative Commons

A unit of 22 bus drivers for Columbia County’s “CC Rider” transit service joined Amalgamated Transit Union Local 757 in a Sept. 27 vote, but just days later, their bus contractor employer — MTR Western — gave notice it would end its contract with Columbia County effective April 2019. Coincidence, or a violation of federal labor law? Seattle-based MTR, a non-union charter bus operator,  outbid an incumbent union contractor last July to win a bus contract with the City of Corvallis. It then slashed driver wages $1.50 and illegally refused to recognize their union, at least initially.

CC Rider provides bus service between the communities of Clatskanie, Rainier, St. Helens, Scappoose, and Vernonia, as well as trips from Columbia County to downtown Portland, PCC Rock Creek, and Kelso/Longview, Washington. With drivers facing layoff and the riding public facing a loss of service, Local 757 is calling on the county to take on operation of the service directly; it already owns the vehicles and the bus yard. Alternately, some or all of the service could be picked up by the adjacent Sunset Empire Transportation District in Clatsop County, where workers unionized last August.

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