A D.C. Circulator bus is seen here. (Courtesy of Wikimedia Coomons)
A D.C. Circulator bus is seen here. (Courtesy of Wikimedia Coomons)

DC Circulator drivers are now officially on strike, seeking better wages and benefits from the operating company that manages it.

The drivers started picketing on Tuesday. The picketing was manned by the American Transit Union Local 689 members.

ATU Local 689 President Raymond Jackson said the demonstrators would remain “as long as it takes.”

Jackson said the drivers should receive hazard pay due to the sacrifices his members made during the coronavirus pandemics.

“We are the essential workers that get the rest of the essential workers where they need to go,” Jackson said, WTOP reported. “We made sure that the people in our community got to where they needed to go.”

Union leaders accuse RATP Dev, the company that manages the DC Circulator for the D.C. Department of Transportation, of unfair labor practices. RATP Dev has been criticized by union leaders for negotiating in bad faith, threatening to substitute union workers with subcontractors, eliminating workers’ federal rights under the Family & Medical Leave Act, underpayment, and inflation concerns.

Union leaders said they will stay off work until an agreement is reached. RATP Dev expressed disappointment with the strike.

RATP Dev said its current proposal increases a retirement match, adds a medical plan, makes Juneteenth a holiday, and better wages.

“The company proposed to extend the term of the parties’ current collective bargaining agreement beyond April 30, 2022, but ATU Local 689 rejected the company’s offer to avoid a strike,” the statement said, WTOP reported.

Company and union officials resume negotiations Wednesday.

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