No Decision on Dispute Between AC Transit and Drivers

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.

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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.

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“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.

  • Loren

    Why should they be exempt from the “life changes” that everyone else in the world has to deal with when their employer’s situation changes? If I did that “sick out” thing, I’d be looking for another job. Maybe they should be too.

    • rj

      you sound like a sissy scab, enjoy your latte, enjoy your self centered life.

  • Ken

    Management created this mess. Before this contract was imposed on us drivers, did the public ever have a problem with catching it’s scheduled buses? The district, in addition to imposing a contract on us, also imposed a sign up on us. That means that they switched the way our runs are made up and worked without first agreeing with the union. Usually when there is a sign up, the union and the district come to an agreement about how the runs are made up. This time, however, the district made up the runs themselves. Usually, a run might be a straight run meaning a driver comes to work and gets off after working an eight hour shift. Other runs consist of a driver working a morning part, having a break, then working an afternoon part. When a driver signs a run, they usually sign according to the other responsibilities in their life. Some drivers are single parents and have to work straight runs in order to care for their children. Other drivers like the two part runs with the break in the middle so they can get personal matters taken care of on their breaks. When the district made up these runs, they made all the runs groups. A group run means that a driver works something different every day. In addition to that, the district gave no consideration to a drivers senority. Also, the district forced drivers who are used to working days to working nights and vice versa. Drivers are human beings and have lives just like the passengers we work hard for every single day. The district created this mess. A C transit drivers are proud to be drivers and work hard for the public we serve. The district has manipulated the public into believing that drivers are just out to make an extra buck but the FACT is we never asked for a raise during the limited negotiations we have had with the district. I say limited because the district never bargined in good faith with the union. Instead, the Board of Directors voted in closed sessions to impose this bogus contract on us. Before judging us, put yourself in our shoes and think about what you would do in the same situation?

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