Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Bus Strike Ends! The Teamsters Approve Sun Tran's Two-Year Deal

Posted By on Wed, Sep 16, 2015 at 7:24 PM

click to enlarge MARIA INÉS TARACENA
  • Maria Inés Taracena

After 42 days, the bus strike is over. Sun Tran routes will be back to normal tomorrow. 

With a vote of 351 to 41, the bus drivers and mechanics who have been picketing for six weeks approved a deal between the Teamsters Local Union 104 and Professional Transit Management—the company contracted by the city of Tucson to oversee Sun Tran. The two had reached a tentative agreement early Wednesday morning. Teamsters mediator Andy Marshall says it is a two-year agreement, but he gave a commitment to several parties he wouldn't give much detail on the contract's finances for now. 

"The (city) budget was not reopened, there was no money taken from any other department. It was funds that either existed or city savings, strike savings. It was all internal," he told the Weekly after the vote count ended at around 7 p.m. "We didn't get everything we wanted...but...we got the respected we deserve. It was better than what we rejected. A lot of hard struggle, but I am very proud of my people. It is an honor to work for them."

Last week, the Tucson City Council voted for French-based Transdev to use the roughly $500,000 in fuel savings that was returned to the city's general fund during the fiscal year, as well as the hundreds of thousands the company has saved up during the strike (because no one involved is getting paid), as a sign of good faith to find a resolution. Those funds ended up being used to settle negotiations, according to Marshall and Sun Tran.

The bus strike began Aug. 6, after the union rejected Sun Tran's three-year proposal, which included a lesser starting wage for new employees, and no raises for current employees. Fixing ongoing mold problems and demands for better security were also on the negotiating table, and Marshall says Sun Tran has already begun to address the issues. "It's going to take time, but they are on it," he said. 

Throughout the strike, Sun Tran was able to run 13 routes in a limited service, in part thanks to some management and administrative staffers helping out, as well as 15 others from out of state, who were hired by Transdev (PTM's father company). In the meantime, 66,000 people who rely on the bus to go to work, doctor's appointments, etc. were left to scramble how to get around.

“I look forward to a productive relationship with the Teamsters membership moving forward and I’m pleased a new contract could be reached,” said Sun Tran General Manager Kate Riley in a statement to the media. “We recognize how difficult this process has been for all of our passengers and the community, and are happy to operate all 43 routes starting tomorrow.”

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