Officials at AC Transit, which serves parts of Alameda and Contra Costa counties, voted June 30 to impose a new contract effective July 18 after three months of negotiations failed to result in an agreement.
But Alameda County Superior Court Judge Judith Ford ruled last Monday that the district must honor the old contract during the arbitration process, which Amalgamated Transit Union Local 192 lead negotiator Claudia Hudson said could be lengthy.
The union represents the bus agency's 1,750 employees, including 1,200 bus drivers.
AC Transit officials said that to comply with Ford's order, operators must be reassigned to their previous work schedules and numerous internal procedures must be changed, including payroll, health and welfare benefits, lunch breaks, overtime and holiday bonuses, part-time work and cost-of-living adjustments.
Johnson said the bus agency reinstituted the old contract as of Sunday except for health care co-pays. He said they won't go back to the older lower level until Sept. 1 because of paperwork requirements.
Johnson said that even though the old contract is now back in place, drivers are continuing to call in sick at higher-than-normal rates.
He said 122 operators called in sick today, which is higher than the normal level of 100 sick operators before the new contract was imposed.
He said during the first week of the new contract more than 200 operators called in sick but the level fell to less than 200 the second week and about 150 in the third week.
Hudson has denied management's allegation that employees are engaging in a sickout.
The two sides will return to court Wednesday for management's request to have Judge Frank Roesch reconsider his July 16 ruling that ordered AC Transit to enter into binding arbitration with ATU Local 192 to try to reach an agreement on a new contract.
The two sides have agreed on an arbitrator, but no new talks have been scheduled so far.