Terminal Talks Underway

Wages, staffing and respect top the list for ticket agents, baggage handlers and others.

ATU Local 1700 and Greyhound have opened contract negotiations for terminal workers across the nation. Talks are underway in Atlanta and Sacramento, to be followed by Washington, D.C., Jacksonville, Jackson, Cleveland and Buffalo. The contract at the Los Angeles terminal doesn’t expire until 2014.

After years of fighting for union recognition, ticket agents, GPX agents, baggage handlers, janitors and others in eight cities scored small but significant gains in their first contract in 2010. Today, they continue fighting for decent wages, a safe and respected working environment, a fair and honest grievance procedure, and a chance for incentives offered at non-union terminals.

Some terminal workers are full-time employees but most work part-time. “All of them are hard working, underpaid and deserve more respect on the job,” said Local 1700 President Sandra Frye. “They are frontline employees who handle disgruntled passengers’ concerns with dignity.”

Here’s how the fight looks from on the ground in Atlanta, Washington and Sacramento.


Ed Hodges began handling baggage in the Washington, D.C. bus station in June 1994, and led the drive to re-organize terminal workers in 1996. As in Atlanta, the main issues on D.C. terminal workers’ minds today are wages and staffing.

ATU Local 1700 has been able to double pay during the past 17 years, from $6 to $12.25 for baggage handlers and from $6.50 to $13 for ticket agents. Greyhound proposed raises of 2% the first year, followed by 3% each of the next two years, but members want 4% in each of the three years.

Hodges said 15 of the 26 employees are fulltime. “There is a good sense of unity among the workforce, including drivers,” he added. “We need to stand together. United we stand, divided we fall.”

The North Carolina native has one daughter.


Nancy Freitas worked in the Sacramento bus station from 1993 to 2002, and returned as a ticket agent in 2006. Freitas said staffing is a critical issue. Only eight of nearly 30 terminal workers are fulltime. Greyhound recently claimed it could only afford a part-time ticket agent on swing shift, even though there had always been three fulltime agents.

“They’re pulling our leg,” she said. “They only want fulltime people to cover their busiest periods and say they want college students to come in for the rest of the time.”

Management, the steward added, treats terminal workers disrespectfully, from not allowing employees to take time for personal reasons, to changing schedules without asking – or even informing – workers.

The Bay Area native moved to Sacramento in 1981, and has one daughter at home and a second daughter with two grandkids in the apartment below them.


Pay and staffing are the issues that Atlanta terminal workers care most about, said steward Mike Brown, adding that only about a third of nearly three-dozen coworkers are fulltime. Brown summed up what they want in the next contract: “We just want to be treated fairly.”

The New York native has worked as a platform worker for Greyhound for 28 years in Atlanta, loading and unloading luggage in the rain, cold and heat. “We definitely need more staff to get the job done right,” he said, “and we need fair wages, especially for the people who have been loyal all these years.”

Brown said terminal workers reject the company’s contract offer of no increases for the first two years, followed by 2% for fulltime employees and 1.5% for part-time. “That’s ridiculous.”