AC Transit

CA: AC Transit Asks Brown Intervene in Labor Dispute

Hoping to avert a strike by its bus operators and mechanics, the AC Transit Board of Directors wants Gov. Jerry Brown to impose a 60-day cooling off period to eliminate any chance of a walkout by AC Transit employees later this week.

The request comes on the heels of a second rejection of a tentative labor agreement by members of the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 192 (ATU). The union now is threatening to take its 1,630 bus operators and mechanics out on strike at 12:01 a.m., Oct. 17.

In a two page letter, the agency implores Gov. Brown to impose the cooling off period because a strike would leave nearly 200,000 daily bus riders stranded and “significantly endanger the public’s health, safety and welfare.”

So far, two tentative labor agreements have been turned down even though union leadership strongly recommended that is members adopt of both contracts.

Last June, the ATU members authorized its leadership to call a strike at any time. A strike set for last August was averted when AC Transit and union negotiators reached a tentative agreement that was later rejected by the rank-and-file.

On Sept. 25, another agreement with union leadership was reached, but ATU workers rejected that one, too. Now, the ATU has called for another strike of its bus operators and mechanics, effective midnight Wednesday.

A strike “will cause significant disruption of service to our riders in Alameda, Contra Costa and San Mateo Counties as well as to and from (San Francisco),” the letter concludes. “The BART strike (in July) arguably provides more than sufficient evidence of the type of disruption that another Bay Area transit worker strike would entail.’’

Among other things, the district last offer included:

• a nine point five percent (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

AC Transit remains ready to negotiate with the ATU leadership in an effort to reach a labor agreement and avoid any disruption in bus services.