Local story on B4.On the first anniversary of the walkout against Greyhound, striking drivers believe they have been forgotten - by the labor movement and by the people who ride the buses.
"It's our own fault, I guess, because we haven't maintained the picket lines," Bob Beard, a Greyhound driver of 29 years from suburban Washington, said about the strike that began a year ago Saturday.Like most of the 6,000 other drivers who walked out March 2, 1990, over wages and job security, Beard has been forced to find other work to support his family. He drives an airport shuttle bus for about half what he earned at the nation's only coast-to-coast bus line.
When drivers first walked out, Greyhound moved to fill the union jobs with permanent replacements. Two months later, the company declared the strike over, in essence saying the union's jobs no longer existed.
In June, the Dallas-based bus line filed for bankruptcy protection, blaming its losses on strike violence it said cost nearly $50 million. The early weeks of the strike were marred by shootings, bomb threats and other violence.
As the company tries to reorganize, it has taken a business-as-usual approach, but pared its work force and cut unprofitable chartered routes to make itself more efficient, said spokesman George Gravley.
There are 2,500 fewer drivers, 600 fewer mechanics, 250 fewer managers and 1,000 fewer buses.
Still, 95 percent of the line's former routes are still intact, Gravley said.
The drivers have outlined two potential scenarios that would end the strike favorably for them:
-The union wins a National Labor Relations Board case in which the agency has accused Greyhound of several unfair labor practices, including illegally harassing and firing workers. A victory could provide drivers with as much as $125 million in back pay. The case, however, may be tied up in court for several years.
-A third party buys Greyhound. A New York investment company, the Blackstone Group, is studying a buyout and has said a rebuilding would include rehiring union drivers.
But it's unclear how many drivers would return even if they had the chance.