Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Bus Strike Day 28: Teamsters Say Sun Tran, City Might Be Searching for 'Replacement' Drivers Out of State

Posted By on Wed, Sep 2, 2015 at 8:42 AM

click to enlarge MARIA INÉS TARACENA
  • Maria Inés Taracena

Sun Tran and the city of Tucson may be in the market to hire "replacement employees" from out of state, according to the Teamsters Local Union 104. The bus strike is entering its 28th day with no resolution in sight.

The Teamsters allege that ads were placed in Orlando, Chicago, Dallas, Los Angeles and Orange County to hire bus drivers and other employees to fill up the vacancies. Their contract would guarantee paid airfare, lodging, with a "strike pay" of $21 an hour, plus $31.50 for overtime. Then there's $22 per day for meals, etc. The substitute workers would be required to work two to four weeks, 12 hours a day. This would cost at least $9,778 for every person they hire, according to the Teamsters.

From the press release received Tuesday evening:
Here is how much taxpayer money SunTran and the City of Tucson will pay, and waste, on each individual out of state replacement for the duration of a 4 week employment contract. Daily straight time pay plus overtime pay is $294.00, multiplied by 20 days equals $5,880.00 in wages.

Daily per diem is $22.00 multiplied by 28 days (includes weekend meals) equals $616.00. Lodging (including weekends) at $89.00 per day multiplied by 28 days equals $2,492.00.

The cheapest round trip airfare from Orlando is $790. The grand total that SunTran and the City of Tucson are willing to guarantee each one of these out of state replacements is an estimated $9,778.00.

That amount divided by 20 days worked equals $488.90 per day as compared to $213.84 for a top rate 30 plus year driver on strike.

$9,778.00 multiplied by 423 replacements equals $4,136,094.00 for only 28 days or $53,916,938.60 for 365 days. 
Sun Tran spokesperson Kandi Young says that's not true.

"Sun Tran and the City of Tucson have NOT placed any ads locally or nationally for replacement operators," she says in an email to the Weekly. "We are working with an outside vendor to provide operators so we can continue to offer service to our passengers, which is paid for out of the approved budget."

On Tuesday, Sun Tran announced it had added two more routes to its limited service: Routes 6—Tohono Transit Center to downtown— and Route 7—22nd Street from Harrison to downtown. 

Here's all the routes, running from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m.:
Route 3 – 6th St./Wilmot
Route 4 – Speedway
Route 6 – Euclid/ N. 1st Ave.
Route 7 – 22nd Street
Route 8 – Broadway
Route 9 – E. Grant
Route 11 – Alvernon
Route 16 – Oracle/Ina
Route 18 – South 6th Avenue
Route 25 – South Park Avenue
Route 29 – Valencia  
Last week, the Teamsters rejected Sun Tran's latest proposal, saying it was even worse than the original.

That new offer was presented to the Teamsters last Wednesday by the federal mediator on behalf of Sun Tran. The union said it still didn't address mold contamination issues or safety concerns—and the wage and benefits proposal was considerably lower:
The total money being offered in year 1 has been reduced from $0.54, which was divided between Pension, Health & Welfare, an additional Holiday, and a $0.50 raise to new hires, to $0.42, which is in the form of an hourly pay increase for each employee.The total money being offered in year 2 has been reduced from $0.39, which was divided between Pension, Health & Welfare, an additional Holiday, and a $0.50 raise to new hires, to $0.24, which is in the form of an hourly pay increase for each employee.The total money being offered in year 3 has been reduced from $0.39, which was divided between Pension, Health & Welfare, an additional Holiday, and a $0.50 raise to new hires, to $0.24, which is in the form of an hourly pay increase for each employee.
In the meantime, the Teamsters and many others still hope the city will get involved.

"The Mayor and City Council should be appalled and ashamed of what SunTran and the City of Tucson are willing to spend on out of state temporary replacements rather than bargain a fair contract with the dedicated and loyal striking employees! Call them and demand action!" the Teamsters' press release says. 

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