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.