More finger pointing in AC Transit labor dispute

July 22, 2010 6:38:48 PM PDT
There was more finger-pointing Thursday about AC Transit's labor dispute. The union offered up examples of how the imposed contract is creating hardships for workers, while AC Transit says the union has only itself to blame.

For the fourth day in a row, AC Transit bus service was unreliable. The district says about 190 workers called-in sick Thursday, as compared with over 200 each of the past three days.

Sunday, AC Transit imposed a contract on its Almalgamated Transit Union Local 192 workers. The two sides had failed to come to an agreement after the prior contract expired June 30.

"It's been 23 days ago that the district walked away from negotiations," ATU Local 192 spokesperson Claudia Hudson said.

"They walked away from the table; AC Transit faced a $56 million dollar deficit. Something had to be done to remain solvent, so the board imposed a contract so riders could still get buses," AC Transit spokesperson Sam Singer said.

AC Transit calls the high number of sick calls an organized "sick-out," the union calls it a "push-out," saying the district has created untenable work schedules for many workers.

Today they produced legal declarations describing those hardships, including a husband and wife who fine-tuned their schedules to take care of their small children.

"AC Transit disrupted that, forced in three days to find childcare," Hudson said.

"The sad story is that the union leadership is being dishonest; they told drivers not to show up for the new routes and therefore they were assigned for them," Singer said.

Dorothea Williams says she waited 45 minutes for a bus that usually comes in about 10. She is confused by what she has heard about why.

"It's like, OK, what's the truth here?" she asked.

AC Transit says it needs its workers to start contributing a $10 co-pay for medical visits, to accept a two-tiered pension plan and a salary freeze.

The union is asking a judge to lift the imposed contract. That hearing is scheduled for July 30.

Singer says if the contract is blocked, the district will have no choice but to lay off workers.


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