AC Transit’s Board of Directors and management have been committed to the negotiation process ever since it began on March 29 —nearly seven months ago — with the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 192, which represents 1,625 operators and mechanics.
To spur consensus, the district early on requested the assistance of a state mediator to help each side understand the needs of the other, formulate realistic demands and ultimately forge a contract that is fair to both parties without financially eroding the public’s bus service.
It worked. On Aug. 7, we hammered out contract that was approved by the ATU leadership. But, regrettably, the agreement was rejected by the union’s rank-and-file membership.
So, a new round of closed-door negotiations began with the district carefully listening to the union’s new demands and working diligently to construct a new pact to meet them.
To address the ATU’s new concerns, the district refined its contract offer to, among other things, include:
• A 9.5 percent pay increase over three years for ATU employees—yielding employees an additional $5,529.00 in annual income — at minimum a 6 percent salary increase — even after medical contributions are factored in
• No payment contributions into the employees’ own pension plan
• A flat rate payment for health insurance based on whatever coverage an employee may select—putting ATU members on par with the district’s other workers who pay 10 percent of the cost of their medical insurance premiums
• An equity adjustment in pay for janitors, paying them $17.34 hourly after nine months
It is a sound and equitable contract that once again was strongly endorsed by ATU’s leadership only to be dismissed by its members last week to the dismay of the district. So now, the district awaits word from the union to determine what steps to take next.
The AC Transit Board of Directors and its negotiating team entered into these labor bargaining discussions with absolute sincerity, offering competitive salaries, amenable work conditions and a willingness to consider all reasonable union proposals. The district will not change its approach and remains optimistic that the negotiation process will eventually bear fruit and that an agreement with the ATU will be realized.