Santa Clarita Transit bus drivers, dispatchers and customer service representatives employed by MV Transit in the city of Santa Clarita started walking picket lines on Monday, Oct. 9, distrupting transit services for residents and students.
Santa Clarita has issued the following transit alert:
“Bus drivers and dispatchers continue to strike today. Santa Clarita Transit has suspended ALL local and tripper services today, Oct. 10. A very limited Dial-a-Ride service is available, with priority given to dialysis and other highly urgent medical appointments. Please visit SantaClaritaTransit.com or their X page (formerly Twitter) @SCTBus for updates.
The 200 Teamster-represented transit workers went on strike after talks between the union and MV Transit failed to reach an agreement on a new contract.
Teamsters Local 572 which represents the works issued a statement that indicated the strike, now in day two, will continue “as long as it takes for workers to receive a fair pay raise.”
The city of Santa Clarita previously released a statement that emphasized that the city is not directly involved in labor negotitaitons with the transit workers that are employed by MV Transit.
“The city of Santa Clarita has a contract with MV Transportation to provide transit services. That contract was negotiated and agreed to by MV Transportation,” said city officials.
The transit workers have been negotiating with MV Transit for more than a year without progress, reported union officials.
The union alleges that the city of Santa Clarita received tens of millions of dollars in Covid relief funding for transit operations (including salaries) and the city failed to appropriate the funds to its contractor, MV Transit, so Santa Clarita drivers could receive standard “hero pay.”
“Transit drivers, dispatchers and customer service representatives in Santa Clarita provide an essential service to the community and are expected to have the highest level of skill and professionalism to assure the safety of students, commuters and seniors,” said Lourdes Garcia, President, Teamsters Local 572. “Even after two of their co-workers died of Covid less than a week after driving a city bus filled with commuters, MV staff in Santa Clarita are being treated like second class citizens, paid roughly half of what less skilled workers are earning at the city.”
The statement from Teamsters Local 572 also included statements from current SCV Transit workers:
“We are sick and tired of being treated like our hard work doesn’t matter to Santa Clarita city leaders,” said Linda Rompal, a 19-year bus driver with MV Transit and member of Teamsters Local 572. “We did not want to strike, but our employer refuses to pay us fairly and their client, the city of Santa Clarita, refuses to provide MV Transit the resources needed to pay us a fair wage, so we have no choice.”
“When our co-workers Carlos Ramirez and Jay Bohanan died of Covid, it was really scary for all of us, but we kept on working. We never got the “Hero Pay” drivers were getting around the country, and we have no idea why not because the MTA transferred millions of dollars in Covid relief money to the city to help us out. Where did that money go?” said Joseph Norwood, a 16-year bus driver, trainer, and shop steward of Teamsters Local 572.
“It’s bad enough that city gardeners are making nearly double what we make, but now fast-food workers are going to be making more than us. Enough is enough,” said Daisy Frankquez, a 14-year dispatcher and member of Teamsters Local 572.
The statement from Teamsters Local 572 also alleges that Santa Clarita’s transit budget has not grown in proportion to the rest of the city’s budget.
“The city of Santa Clarita, which is home to nearly 250,000 residents, is considered one of the most expensive cities in the U.S. As the city has grown, so has its budget, growing from just $26 million when the city was incorporated in 1987 to $322 million today. In the last five years alone, Santa Clarita’s budget has grown by more than 42 percent while its allocation to its critical transit system during this same period has only increased by 15 percent, perhaps explaining why the pay disparity between the contract drivers and the city’s direct employees is so significant.”
SCVNews has reached out to the city of Santa Clarita for comment.