Arlington County transit contractor Forsythe Transportation fired about 35 of the 36 drivers who went on strike June 13.
After an investigation, the drivers were fired for violating the “No Strike” provisions in their contract, a statement from Forsythe Transportation said. The striking drivers represented less than half of Arlington Regional Transit’s drivers.
The drivers’ union, the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Local 3001, questioned how “an operator who requires four to six weeks of training can be replaced by a trainee with five days of training,” said Charles Smith, the union representative. Forsythe is “putting a lot of people and property in peril,” he said.
Arlington Regional Transit (ART) buses were back to 100 percent staffed and running on time by June 17 using fully certified and licensed drivers, the Forsythe statement said.
“In this economy, Forsythe has been able to immediately attract fully licensed, qualified and experienced transit bus operators who were placed in a program to asses their driving skills, ensure that their license and background checks are complete and pass their mandatory drug screen test,” said CEO William P. Forsythe in a statement.
The union has filed numerous charges against the company, beginning in May, Smith said.
“We have charges filed with the National Labor Relations Board and they will hash out the issue of permanent replacement of these drivers,” he said.
Arlington County is not a party to the contract between drivers and Forsythe. The transportation company is fulfilling its annually renewed contract with the county, said Steve Del Giudice, the county’s transit chief.
“We are somewhat surprised by the number of drivers who have been terminated,” Del Giudice said. “I think it is a regrettable situation that drivers took a job action and it took their jobs,” he said.
Del Giudice also stated that the drivers’ contracts were clear that a strike would lead to disciplinary action.