The strike had threatened to disrupt services for disabled passengers, a concern shared by outside advocates and some of the workers themselves.
The striking workers are employed by Dallas-based MV Transportation, which bills itself as the nation’s largest provider of paratransit services. The company handles reservations, scheduling and dispatches for MetroAccess, which provides door-to-door rides in vans for people who can’t take the transit agency’s buses or trains because of disabilities.
“We’re done being disrespected,” Tonia White said Friday afternoon during a boisterous picket, where she said many of her colleagues are African American women, including struggling single mothers. “They absolutely refuse to give us what we’re worth.”
The union said that under a back-to-work agreement, the strike was called off and the company agreed that “no workers will be retaliated against for striking and that it will adhere to federal labor laws.”
“There are still many issues to negotiate, but our riders come first and foremost for us,” said John Costa, the union’s international president. “We do reserve the right to walk off the job again” if the company doesn’t bargain in good faith.
Metro said the strike’s effect on riders was limited Friday because MetroAccess does not offer same-day service. As of 5 p.m., 95 percent of pickups were on time, Metro said. Metro spokeswoman Sherri Ly had warned of additional wait times because of a high call volume, and reminded customers they “always have the option of using the online reservation system without any wait.”
Members of ATU local 689 — which represents the workers in Hyattsville — had warned that the strike could continue for an extended period. “They pay the workforce here poverty wages,” said union negotiator John Lyons, who said most make less than $15 an hour.
MV Transportation did not respond Friday to requests for comment.
Advocates for people with disabilities said they were concerned about the rights of the Hyattsville workers and the potential for disruptions for those who need MetroAccess for everyday tasks.
“There are thousands of riders a day and people use MetroAccess all across the DMV to get to work, to go to the doctor, to get groceries, to do all the things that are required to be able to live in the community,” said Carol Tyson, a longtime advocate now at the Disability Rights Education & Defense Fund.
Tyson said she had been worried about service disruptions, including difficulties for people trying to get coronavirus vaccines. She said she also supported the strike and the workers.
White said she also had concerns about the difficulties the strike could cause for passengers, but said some of her colleagues are in such challenging financial straits they sometimes bypass lunch at work.