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Judge Rules in Favor of AC Transit Drivers

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OAKLAND, Calif. (KCBS)_ An Alameda County Superior Court judge has granted a preliminary injunction, preventing AC Transit from imposing further work rules against union bus drivers.

Union officials are considering Monday’s court ruling a significant victory.

AC Transit officials say more cuts will be needed if they can’t cut labor costs by $15.7 million.

Interim General Manager Mary King says the possible cuts will be draconian at best.

“We’re in the process of making our second cuts right now,” said King.

Meanwhile union officials are celebrating the judge’s ruling. They say it should mean a return to service levels that were present before AC Transit imposed new work rules last month.

The injunction was in response to the request the Amalgamated Transit Union made last Friday, in front of Alameda County Superior Court Judge Judith Ford, asking for an injunction that the imposed contract be put off until there can be arbitration between the union and AC Transit.

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The contract has drawn plenty of criticism from the union saying it changes work rules, scheduling, and also increases the cost of healthcare for union members.

Upon exiting the courthouse, union spokesperson and lead negotiator Claudia Hudson said disruptions to bus service are the fault of the agency and not the union.

“AC Transit has started to experiment with the way they put service on the street. Just the simple reason, the way the service is being provided to the public is what’s wrong,” Hudson said.

Hudson denies allegations that there has been an organized “sick-out” amongst union members.  However, AC Transit says absenteeism has increased 15 to 20 percent since the new contract was imposed.

At a meeting Monday night, the AC Transit board discussed, but did not decide one way or another whether to appeal the judge’s decision at its next meeting on August 18th.

AC Transit Interim General Manager Mary King said if the agency can’t cut labor costs by $15.7 million, it must find the savings elsewhere.

”There will be draconian cuts. There will be draconian cuts at best,” she said.

King said an already agreed to round of cuts is still scheduled to go into effect August 29.

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