Union approves 3-year contract with AC Transit

AC Transit is hoping the third time's the charm as drivers and mechanics vote on a tentative deal.
December 27, 2013 12:00:00 AM PST
AC Transit union workers have ratified their labor contract, avoiding a potential strike.

Late Friday night, the rank and file approved a three-year contract. It will now go before the AC Transit Board of Directors for final approval on Jan. 8, 2014.

Earlier on Friday, AC Transit management -- accompanied by three security guards -- confronted us as we waited to talk to those union employees voting on a tentative agreement.

Shirley Haile from AC Transit: "I need you to leave the property."
Melendez: "We're just here to cover the vote and give you coverage. Nobody else is covering this."
Haile: "I you need to leave the property."
Melendez: "I understand, you can say it in a nice way. That's fine. I'll leave the property. Channel 7 asked me to do this story so that we can get your input as well."
Haile: "We have no response for you other than I'm directing you to leave the property now."

It was just another example of how contentious the negotiations between management and the union have been.

The ATU Local 192 president did not return our calls for an interview. That's because it members have rejected two previous tentative agreements. AC Transit officials said this time the deal includes a 9.5-percent salary increase phased in over the next three years of the contract and employees will make a flat monthly contribution of $125 per employee to their health care costs.

That union represents more than 1,600 bus operators, mechanics, clerical workers and dispatchers.

Many AC Transit passengers believe it's time to reach an agreement.

"What do you have to complain about? You work every day, be thankful. We know it's hard times, everybody has to make concessions," said Tangie Wilbert, an AC Transit rider.

"I rely on the bus to get back and forth. So if the bus is not running, I'm essentially not getting to work," said Anthony Wilson, an AC Transit rider.

About 180,000 riders rely on AC Transit serving Alameda and Contra Costa Counties.

Bay City News contributed to this story.


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