CA: GET Details Latest Rejected Contract Offer

Aug. 09--Golden Empire Transit District released Friday the details of the most recent contract proposal the union rejected.

Some bids were half of what employees originally asked for.

GET's board offered a 2 percent wage increase for 2014 to all 257 employees on strike. For 2015 it proposed a 3 percent pay boost for the 147 part-time bus drivers and a 2 percent raise for the 110 full-time drivers, mechanics and servicers.

After about two hours of negotiation on Wednesday and three hours on Thursday, the union rejected the offer, said GET spokeswoman Gina Hayden. This is the fourth week GET employees have been on strike.

The Teamsters Local 517 union's original request was for a 4 percent wage increase for each year of the contract and a gradual end to the district's two-tier classification of bus drivers.

Hayden said previous contracts with the employee union have been for three years, but the one being discussed is only for two years.

Additionally, the two-tier classification of bus drivers is not the issue being debated, Hayden said.

"I think it's the wages that really are being discussed," she said.

GET has suggested going to arbitration on the issue but the union has not agreed to it. If both sides were to go to arbitration, employees would return to work under the existing contract terms.

While 20,000 people regularly ride the bus system, GET has said it cannot agree to wage increases exceeding projected revenues or negatively impacting the state-required production ratio, according to a GET news release.

State regulations mandate transit agencies bring in fare box revenues that cover at least 20 percent of agency expenses. Penalties for falling below the requirement include the loss of state funding.

Efforts to contact Teamsters representatives were unsuccessful Friday.

Copyright 2014 - The Bakersfield Californian

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