Union leaders trying to negotiate a contract for bus drivers in Phoenix and Tempe aren't making any progress with Veolia Transportation, the international firm that runs the cities bus operations.
"A strike appears to be inevitable," Michael Cornelius, president of the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1433 tells New Times about the Phoenix contract. "For the entire year that the union has been trying to avoid a strike, Veolia has been pushing for a strike."
While executives with Veolia Transportation keep publicly saying the want to negotiate, union leaders say that corporate representatives are uninterested in reaching any common ground.
Both sides recently sat down to negotiate terms of their Tempe city bus contract.
"We sat down at the table with Veolia Tempe in hopes of negotiating a contract for the Veolia Tempe operators, within 10 minutes of sitting down at the table Veolia passed us a best and final offer to take back to Tempe operators," says Bob Bean, the union vice president.
Members, that is Tempe bus drivers, are expected to vote on that offer on October 4.
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Veolia execs gave ATU reps a final contract offer for the Phoenix drivers, and that was overwhelmingly rejected by a vote of Phoenix drivers. That means that drivers are willing to strike rather than accept the terms Veolia is proposing.
After the nearly unanimous rejection of the Phoenix deal, Veolia officials said they would be willing to go back and try to hammer something out. But, instead of making any progress, they simply pushed the same proposal across the table.
The local ATU already had authority from its Phoenix members and the national organization to go on strike over the Phoenix contract, but one hasn't been ordered.