STERLING, Va. (DC News Now) — Riders of Loudoun County busses are growing frustrated with the lack of service, as workers near an eighth week on strike. But some believe the county could do something to speed up the process.
Those that do believe if Loudoun County fines Keolis — which it can do — it would help get service back up and running by speeding up the negotiations between the company and striking workers. However, the county said — it doesn’t believe that’s the case.
ATU Local 689 workers chanted ‘fine Keolis’ in front of the Loudoun County Government Center on Valentine’s Day, and a few weeks later, that wish has not been granted.
“They were hired to perform a service,” said Barry Wilson, the union’s recording secretary. “They’re not putting forth the service.”
That rationale is why Wilson believes Keolis should be fined, but the county responded by saying it wouldn’t make sense.
In a statement shared with DC News Now, a county spokesperson confirmed it can fine Keolis for “minor service disruptions and failures to provide timely service,” but “these fines… are not designed to address a major service disruption caused by a labor action such as a strike.”
“I don’t want to drive anymore, so if it takes someone having healthcare, just give it to them because I’m tired of driving,” Shane Gerbert, a previously-frequent bus rider, told DC News Now.
Gerbert said since the strike began, he has been driving himself and paying to park at the Metro station. He is part of a different union, and even though he is frustrated with the situation, he’s siding with the employees.
“I think [fines are] a great idea, but I think [the county] should just go with a whole ‘nother provider,” he said.
The county said it believes “the amount of the fines would exceed the total value of the contract within several weeks,” and that fining Keolis wouldn’t be “practical.”