Court allows AC Transit to impose new contract until judge decides on union bid for injunction

Agency, transit union ordered into binding arbitration to settle pension, overtime, other issues

A new contract imposed on an AC Transit employees' union will be in effect until at least the end of next week after a judge delayed deciding on an injunction sought by the union Tuesday that would have blocked the contract.

Amalgamated Transit Union Local 192 had sought the injunction to block the new contract, which the AC Transit board voted to impose on the union when the prior three-year contract expired on June 30.

The imposed contract took effect Sunday.

A hearing was held Tuesday in Alameda County Superior Court on the injunction, but a decision on the matter was postponed until another hearing on July 30.

On Friday, an Alameda County Superior Court judge ordered the transit agency and its 1,600 employees to enter into legally binding arbitration, a process that could be lengthy.

AC Transit, which serves parts of Alameda and Contra Costa counties, faces a $56 million deficit by the end of the two-year fiscal period ending June 30, 2011.

The imposed contract would save the agency $15.7 million by changing overtime rules and co-pay policies for employee health insurance, and by implementing a two-tier pension plan.

Since the new contract took effect Sunday, AC Transit's outside spokesman Sam Singer said roughly 20 percent of union members have staged a "sick-out" by calling in sick to work Monday and Tuesday, leading to widespread delays on the system.

"A 'sick-out' is a terrible thing to do," Singer said. "Bus drivers ought to be driving the buses."

ATU Local 192 lead negotiator Claudia Hudson said the imposed contract is endangering AC Transit passengers by making bus operators work long shifts on regular pay and drive routes they are not used to.

Union officials have said they have no plans to strike. AC Transit's collective bargaining agreement requires arbitration when management and the union are at an impasse, and the agreement prohibits the union from striking during the arbitration process.

The injunction hearing is scheduled for 9 a.m. on July 30 in the courtroom of Judge Frank Roesch.

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Like this comment
Posted by Mike
a resident of Downtown
on Jul 20, 2010 at 10:30 am

I hope they are fired. I am out of work and would love the opportunity to work for the pay and benefits they currently get.

Like this comment
Posted by Albert
a resident of Birdland
on Jul 20, 2010 at 3:38 pm

Many busses have no more than a few people in them, often two or three, there are too many anyway...Take half of them out of service and they wouldn't be missed. Ronald Reagan handled it the right way with the Air Traffic Controlers, can their butts. I am sure there are a lot of truck drivers out of work that could learn the bus routs very quickly.

Like this comment
Posted by easy to make the cuts now
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jul 20, 2010 at 7:20 pm

It is easy to see where AC Transit can cut 18% of the costs. Eliminate the jobs of those who did the sick-out. These jobs are paid for by the taxpayers like me and I do not appreciate those workers essentially stealing from me.

Like this comment
Posted by Kitty_Cali
a resident of Pleasanton Valley
on Jul 21, 2010 at 9:56 am

Everyone else is getting paid less having to pay for more of their own health insurance these days. Why should the employees of AC Transit be any different?

I'm a frequent rider of ACTransit and am extremely disappointed in those that are participating in the 'sick out'. They should be fired. But, wait, they can't be fired because of the Union. There are too many people that would welcome those jobs...

Like this comment
Posted by Willo
a resident of Pleasanton Heights
on Jul 22, 2010 at 4:38 pm

Did some research and found out that AC Transit used US taxpayer money to purchase buses in Belgium, and continue to do so. Also found out that a bus company named Gillig produces buses nationwide and is located in Hayward, approximatly 2 miles from AC Transits Hayward yard. Can someone tell my why my tax dollars are going overseas? We should use money to help our local economy. Do drivers get paid well? Sure they do! But in comparison to other transit agencies in the area (Bart, Muni, Vta, SamTrans), AC Transit appears to be on the low end. AC Transit drivers go through many low income areas that depend on public transit. AC Transit, go back to the barganing table and get this over with!

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