OAKLAND, Calif. (KCBS) _ A court hearing in Oakland ended Friday afternoon with no decision over the continuing dispute between AC Transit and its drivers.
The transit agency imposed a contract on July 18 and attorneys representing the Amalgamated Transit Union had sought to have that contract lifted.
The union has argued that work schedule changes in the contract will severely impact drivers’ lives.
Union President Claudia Hudson said while the process isn’t new, AC Transit’s action is.
“What is new to the game is that an employer does not have a right to impose a contract. It’s supposed to be status quo,” said Hudson. “So we’re holding up to our end of the bargain. It’s the district who is not holding up their end, deceiving the public and now beginning to blackmail the public.”
AC Transit officials have said the contract is necessary, as it will save the agency $15 million and if it is lifted, they may have to cut weekend service.
The agency is looking to close a two-year, $56 million budget gap.
Ever since the contract was imposed, transit officials said 15 percent of drivers have called in sick, but the union said those numbers could not be verified.
The judge is expected to issue a written ruling on Monday.
Frustrated Riders Deal with AC Transit Cancellations
The growing frustrations continued for AC Transit passengers Friday afternoon as the agency canceled about 30 departures from the Transbay Terminal and more than a hundred throughout the day.
It all stems from the rising absenteeism rate for AC Transit bus drivers, this after a contract was imposed on them on July 18.
Many riders said the cancellations and delays have caused major headaches.
“My morning bus hasn’t shown up for two weeks. I catch the bus at my stop at 7 a.m.,” said one passenger. “If it doesn’t come by 7:10, I’m walking to BART which is eight blocks away.”
Union officials said there is no organized sickout, but the absenteeism for bus drivers has soared to 15-20 percent since the contract was imposed.
“Having to leave work earlier or having to leave a little bit later, then getting emails from AC Transit saying these bus routes have been canceled and these other bus routes have been canceled,” said an affected customer.
AC Transit officials said they understand the growing frustration of riders, but the cancellations and delays are unavoidable with a shortage of drivers.