CA: Golden Gate Transit Bus Strike Averted

May 09--A threatened Golden Gate Transit bus strike planned for Thursday that would have sent 25,000 riders scrambling to find other ways to get to work has been called off, officials said Tuesday.

Golden Gate Bridge union workers and organizers have voiced their displeasure over what they say is an effort to have them pay more for medical benefits. The bridge district is wrestling with a five-year, $87 million deficit and is looking at ways to cut costs.

A workers' strike on May 1 shut down morning ferry service out of Marin and at that time union leaders announced plans for a similar strike targeting bus service Thursday.

But a fruitful negotiating session Monday brought the two sides close enough that the action was called off, Golden Gate officials said.

"There is no strike Thursday, all buses will be running," said Mary Currie, Golden Gate Transit spokeswoman. "There is no final agreement yet, but we are heading toward a settlement."

Union officials did not return calls seeking comment.

The sticking point on negotiations has been health care. Benefits are now provided at no cost to employees, but the district was asking the union members to pay up to 8 percent -- depending on salary, according to the union.

The union has offered a 1.75 percent "wage diversion" to help with medical costs, but the offer has been rejected, union officials said.

The union also wants a 2 percent wage increase that was given

to nonunion employees last year.

The unions' last deal with the district expired June 30. The coalition represents 14 unions and about 380 workers including district mechanics, iron workers and operating engineers, among others.

Contact Mark Prado via email at mprado@marinij.com

Copyright 2012 - The Marin Independent Journal, Novato, Calif.

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