VTA workers reject final offer for new labor contract, could go on strike

ByJobina Fortson KGO logo
Thursday, June 20, 2019
VTA may face first-ever strike after union rejects contract
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VTA workers could be going on strike after rejecting a final offer for a new labor contract.

SAN JOSE, Calif. (KGO) -- Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority workers could be going on strike after rejecting a final offer for a new labor contract.

Monique Dear believes her life would be derailed if VTA bus drivers and light rail operators decide to strike. She uses public transportation to get from San Jose to Santa Clara every day.

"I have to be to work at 7:30 in the morning and I don't have a car," Dear said. "I've never owned a car, so I mean it would ruin my life."

ATU union members overwhelmingly rejected VTA's contract offer and are calling on Mayor Sam Liccardo and the VTA board to step in.

"We would hope that they would take a closer look at what VTA offered and not just take the VTA negotiating team's word on it," John Courtney, recording and financial secretary for Amalgamated Transit Union Local 265, said. "Really get into the contract. We've offered to speak to every board member."

The union and VTA reached 37 tentative agreements, but can't seem to work out issues over wage increases and VTA's push for union members to start making larger contributions toward their pensions.

VTA claims this last offer was their best and final. "We were hopeful that, after all these months of negotiating, that ATU union members would see this offer as fair and equitable, ultimately avoiding a strike."

The union said "no comment" when asked about a potential strike. However, VTA is planning for one.

The agency is prioritizing bus service along its highest ridership routes. They'll be staffed by contracted workers with bus operations experience. Light rail service would stop.

"I think it's pretty selfish," Jesse Deleon said. "Everybody wants a strike for some sort of more pay, but what about the people who barely make it." Deleon rides the bus and light rail daily.

"I would say workers come first before anyone else," Samuel Oppong said, while waiting for a light rail car in downtown San Jose. "You have to give them whatever they want."

Before an official strike can start, the union has to give VTA 72-hours notice.

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