Union members take their concerns to HRT board

NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — Hampton Roads Transit union members — including bus drivers — have been working without a contract for months. On Thursday, some of those union members took their concerns straight to the top at HRT.

The Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1177 members were clearly the most represented group in the HRT Commissioners Meeting. Bus driver Brenda Williams summed it up this way: “We as bus operators love our jobs. We love HRT. We are here to find out if HRT loves us.”

The union indicates they can’t negotiate in good faith until HRT stops using bus safety cameras and stops using the process of “fishing” through the video to find bus drivers acting improperly.

10 On Your Side’s Andy Fox asked HRT President and CEO William Harrell about that, and he says the cameras are useful tools.

“From my perspective, if you are doing your job, you don’t have to worry about that.”

Union President Amanda Malone says, “The cameras are not used for safety, they are being used to discipline employees more than anything.”

Andy also asked Malone about Harrell’s comments.

“If you get a customer complaint and it is valid, the operator is guilty, but to look for other disciplinary actions is not right,” Malone responded.

Harrell told board members that the “fishing” issue is holding up contract negotiations with the union, that the union representative gave some distant day in October to resume talks and the union has failed to hand over an economic proposal which would outline requests for pay raises.

Harrell said to the board, “We are not going to negotiate these issues in the media. We need to sit down at the table. If they  want to meet today, we are prepared to do so.”

No contract means no pay raise, although it’s clear retro-pay will be given once a contract is signed.

Williams told the board, “We shouldn’t be negotiating on a pay raise. We should already have our pay raise. We come to work, we do what we are supposed to do, we expect you to do what you’re supposed to do.”