Trolley service in Scottsdale will continue as normal.
A looming strike does not affect your Scottsdale Trolleys.
Phoenix bus-driver union says it will strike at midnight
by Lynh Bui
Mar. 9, 2012 01:22 PM
The Arizona Republic
The union representing more than 600 Phoenix bus drivers said it will go on strike starting at midnight tonight because negotiations with employer Veolia Transportation Services did not yield a settlement agreement Friday.
Both sides met to continue labor negotiations hoping to end a nearly two-year labor dispute over wages and benefits.
Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1433 financial secretary Michael Cornelius said union leaders in Phoenix were in talks with the international this morning to plan for the strike.
Cornelius said talks Friday didn’t yield a contract that he could bring to Phoenix union members to vote on.
Veolia negotiator Thomas Hock, however, said there is a contract offer on the table that includes raises over five years.
Hock said he was surprised and disappointed that the union would announce a strike.
“We have a very reasonable offer on the table and with meetings scheduled for March 22 and 23,” said Hock, who added he had no idea why the union would elect to strike before negotiations were concluded and before union members were allowed to vote on Veolia’s offer.
Veolia also has been in talks with Tempe bus drivers, but unlike Phoenix, Tempe drivers will not be told to go on strike. Instead, Tempe bus drivers will have a meeting Saturday to vote on a contract offer.
“It will more than likely be rejected,” Cornelius said of the Tempe contract.
Both sides have met in negotiations more than 40 times for nearly two years to discuss the Phoenix contract. This week, they met on Wednesday and Thursday with former Arizona Supreme Court Chief Justice Ruth McGregor, who Phoenix hired to facilitate talks as an outside third-party.
ATU President Bob Bean said negotiations with Veolia this week have not gone well, however Veolia officials reported progress during this week’s meetings.
Veolia spokeswoman Valerie Michael said both sides met Friday morning and “didn’t really do any negotiation.” Veolia and the union simply moved the next meeting dates for labor talks to March 22 and 23, Michael said.
In November, Veolia implemented its “best and final” offer for Phoenix drivers, which included 1 percent wage increases each year from 2012 to 2014. Drivers rejected the contract, which also included a half-percent wage increase in 2011.
While a strike would severely disrupt public transit in the nation’s sixth-largest city and neighboring municipalities, service would not come to a complete halt. Veolia is required to provide at least 60 percent of normal service levels, equivalent to a Sunday level of service.
Veolia officials say drivers in the Phoenix area are the highest paid in the Valley, earning an average of $22 per hour.