Buses were back on the road today in the East Valley and portions of South Phoenix after union leaders reached a compromise with First Transit executives.
The four-day strike ended, in part, after company officials agreed during a 32-hour session with Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1433 to eliminate from the bus driver's contract a clause that would have allowed them to fire employees at will without giving them an opportunity to appeal the decision.
But, the picketing has ended and the 40 routes or so affected in Tempe, Mesa, Chandler, Gilbert and parts of Scottsdale and Phoenix by the strike are back in service.
Bob Bean, president of ATU Local 1433, confirmed that elimination of the employee termination clause was part of the revamped deal.
First Transit Inc., the company that operates the East Valley 300-bus fleet, employes an operations and maintenance staff of more than 700, with about 500 bus operators who serve 57,000 daily riders.
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"I'm proud of both the leadership of ATU and First Transit for negotiating nonstop until they got to yes," said Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton, who worked to get union leaders and company executives back into negotiations. "They owed it to this community and our bus passengers who keep our economy going every day."
Stanton also helped broker a deal last March in Phoenix to end a week-long strike when Veolia Transportation, the company that operates buses in that city, couldn't reach an agreement with Phoenix bus drivers.
A First Transit official said in a statement that the three-year East Valley contract deal reached between the company and the bus drivers is good for everyone.
"While we regret that a strike was not averted during the course of the negotiations, we appreciate that the (Amalgamated Transit Union) has shared our desire to resume transit service throughout the community as quickly as possible," said First Transit's Nick Promponas, Senior Vice President of West Region.