- Laborers' Local 483
This morning, TriMet's unionized LIFT drivers— the folks who operate the smaller vans that pick up elderly and disabled riders from their homes—went on a brief strike set off by a two-year-long labor dispute. A group of picketers lined the sidewalk outside of TriMet's head office this morning, joined by a giant blown-up rat. The LIFT workers are actually not official TriMet employees, but on contract with First Transit Inc., a foreign transit contractor, that pays its staff less than regular TriMet employees. The 250 unionized drivers in both Multnomah and Washington counties have been struggling since 2010 for an equitable pay rate ($25.15 an hour instead of $20).
But, by 11:30, the union called off the strike, saying it will head back to the bargaining table—for now. Next week, they go into binding arbitration. But this morning, they briefly halted all LIFT rides aside from their "life-sustaining" trips (which add up to 800). Clackamas County LIFT drivers are strangely not unionized, so their small bus fleets were spread thinly across all three counties to make these trips.
“This foreign corporation is sucking huge profits out of the community and sending those profits overseas while the folks who work and live in the community are being shafted,” said Jonathan Hunt, President of the Amalgamated Transit Union 757. “And TriMet is standing by and allowing them to get away with it."