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Board: ART Labor Dispute “Must Be Resolved”

County Board Chairman Chris Zimmerman says that the labor dispute between a group of unionized drivers and Arlington Transit contractor Forsythe Transportation “must be resolved, immediately.”

In a statement on behalf of the rest of the board, Zimmerman said that the ART bus drivers’ concerns — about sexual harassment and the disciplining of a union leader — “need to be taken seriously.”

Here’s Zimmerman’s full statement.

Since Monday a dispute between the management of Forsythe Transportation, with whom Arlington contracts to operate the County’s ART bus service, and bus drivers represented by American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, Local 3001, has resulted in service disruptions and a significant reduction of service on many ART routes. This situation is simply unacceptable.

Drivers have expressed concerns that need to be taken seriously, including allegations of sexual harassment, and the improper disciplining of a union representative. As this is a labor relations issue between a private company and its workers, Arlington County has no authority to intervene in this matter. However, we call on both parties to work together to resolve the issues and quickly restore full bus service for ART patrons. We urge both sides to utilize all available legal mechanisms to work toward resolution of the issues, including mediation services (such as the Northern Virginia Mediation Service affiliated with George Mason University).

It is critical to move expeditiously to resolve these issues and restore bus service at normal levels. We call for an immediate agreement between management and labor that will provide for the prompt restoration of service and an impartial investigation of worker’s concerns and a fair mediation of the matters in dispute.

Since its inception just over a decade ago, ART has been a steadily growing service, now carrying more than 2 million riders per year. It is increasingly important to the achievement of key goals of this community, including improving quality of life by offering more transportation choices, attaining a range of environmental objectives, reducing traffic congestion, and contributing to the vitality of business. It must continue to be reliable. The current dispute must be resolved, immediately.

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