Asheville city bus drivers reportedly on verge of striking

Asheville city transit drivers are on the verge of striking against their employer, according to a report from Steve Rasmussen, a citizen activist with interests in transit and other local issues. Xpress is investigating; the information is as yet unconfirmed:

The strike would not be against the city, but rather against a bargaining agent, which N.C. law requires governmental units to engage when working with union labor. According to Rasmussen, the city of Asheville contracts for local bus drivers through one of the largest bus companies in the nation, First Transit, Inc., itself a subsidiary of British conglomerate FirstGroup, plc, which also owns Greyhound Bus Lines and First Student, the largest school-bus company in the US.

The strike would be organized by Asheville’s transit union, Amalgamated Transit Union Local 128, says Rasmussen. The local’s leaders are meeting this Sunday, Aug. 22, and the entire membership will be meeting the following Sunday (Aug. 29) to decide whether to call the first transit strike ever held here.

At issue, says Rasmussen: First Transit is forcing Asheville transit workers to work about an hour more each day, while paying them about an hour less.

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About Jeff Fobes
As a long-time proponent of media for social change, my early activities included coordinating the creation of a small community FM radio station to serve a poor section of St. Louis, Mo. In the 1980s I served as the editor of the "futurist" newsletter of the U.S. Association for the Club of Rome, a professional/academic group with a global focus and a mandate to act locally. During that time, I was impressed by a journalism experiment in Mississippi, in which a newspaper reporter spent a year in a small town covering how global activities impacted local events (e.g., literacy programs in Asia drove up the price of pulpwood; soybean demand in China impacted local soybean prices). Taking a cue from the Mississippi journalism experiment, I offered to help the local Green Party in western North Carolina start its own newspaper, which published under the name Green Line. Eventually the local party turned Green Line over to me, giving Asheville-area readers an independent, locally focused news source that was driven by global concerns. Over the years the monthly grew, until it morphed into the weekly Mountain Xpress in 1994. I've been its publisher since the beginning. Mountain Xpress' mission is to promote grassroots democracy (of any political persuasion) by serving the area's most active, thoughtful readers. Consider Xpress as an experiment to see if such a media operation can promote a healthy, democratic and wise community. In addition to print, today's rapidly evolving Web technosphere offers a grand opportunity to see how an interactive global information network impacts a local community when the network includes a locally focused media outlet whose aim is promote thoughtful citizen activism.

7 thoughts on “Asheville city bus drivers reportedly on verge of striking

  1. West Asheville

    Labor unions are what’s wrong with this country. I don’t understand why anybody thinks that they have “your” best interest when they make decisions. Unions are looking out for themselves. It’s just another form of slavery.

  2. Matt Mittan

    It’s not like the XPress to run an unconfirmed report, without having talked to ANY of the ACTUAL parties involved. WWNC news dept had stories yesterday – including interviews with the ACTUAL people involved – saying they expected a deal to be signed with no problem by Sept. Careful XPress… don’t get caught up in the ‘race to get it first, but risk not getting it right” trend in media today.

  3. Agnes Cheek

    Jeff, your’re better than this! Even if this ends up being true it’s destructive unless you do your homework.

  4. mule

    Lol…the irony of Baby Beck Mittan presuming to lecture anyone on journalistic ethics is killing me.

  5. Matt, come on! WWNC only talked to one side — the corporation. Gee, what did you all think First Transit was going to say? That’s like taking BP’s word that the oil has all disappeared from the Gulf.

    Since your story has already scrolled off wwnc.com, here’s what I mean:

    “First Transit Hopes to Avoid Strike

    Asheville’s bus drivers are in negotiations with First Transit over a
    new contract.
    Monday, August 23, 2010

    First Transit Area Vice President Bill Harned says the leadership of
    Amalgamated Transit Union Local 128 and First Transit had agreed in
    principle earlier this month on a new contract. He says the current
    contract expires on September 30th. Amalgamated Transit Union Local
    128 met last night, but Harned says he doesn’t know what resulted from
    that meeting.”

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