CA: Bus Strike Talks End in Impasse

July 31--Talks aimed at ending Bakersfield's more than two-week-old public bus strike convened for less than an hour Thursday before being abandoned, Golden Empire Transit District reported.

No further negotiations were scheduled.

The meeting between GET and Teamsters Local 517 represented the first talks between the two sides in a week.

"They are at an impasse again," GET spokeswoman Gina Hayden said. The talks started at 2 p.m. and lasted 50 minutes. She was unable to provide details, including which side moved to end the discussion.

The Visalia-based union representing more than 250 GET bus drivers and mechanics did not respond to requests for comment.

The union's three-year labor contract with GET expired in March but had been extended through July 14. Contract talks going on intermittently since January failed to reach an agreement, and the next day union members walked off the job.

The Teamsters have said they are asking for a 4 percent raise each of the next three years, as well as gradual elimination of a two-tier system in which some bus drivers are paid on a lower scale.

GET says its revenue outlook is uncertain and it cannot commit to the union's requests.

Bakersfield's last bus strike, in 1980, lasted for more than two months.

GET serves an estimated 20,000 customers. While all fixed-route service has been halted, district managers have provided some curb-to-curb paratransit service to customers with the most urgent medical needs.

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