Phoenix Bus Riders Warned of Possible Strike

The City of Phoenix is warning bus passengers that bus drivers could vote to strike this week.

Phoenix Public Transit Department spokesman Matthew Heil tells New Times that the contracted bus service, First Transit Inc., informed the city that it gave a "best and final offer" to the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1433.

See also: -East Valley Buses Back on the Road, Compromise Ends 4-Day Strike

The members of ATU Local 1433 are expected to vote today and tomorrow on the contract offer, and perhaps a subsequent strike.

ATU Local 1433's president didn't immediately respond to New Times' request for comment, but the union's website includes a snippet to members, urging them not to accept the contract:

"The Union does not recommend that you accept this offer as it is clearly designed to increase corporate profits (from Phoenix taxpayers) out of your pockets. The offer does not [address] major language issues and work rule issues that the Union has raised, it does not better your work, your income or your lives. Your raises will continue to be eaten up by the ever increasing cost of the Company 'self-insured' insurance plan. The Union recommends a huge rejection of this poor deal and that you authorize the President to call a strike if we cannot fix the issues after we meet again with management."
The collective bargaining agreement between the union and First Transit Inc. actually expired on June 30.

It's unknown how many people would be affected by a strike, although the city does keep track of ridership, and provided us with those statistics. In the average month, there are about 1.2 million rides taken on the 14 bus routes operated by First Transit. According to the city, the routes down Thomas Road and Indian School road are two of the city's busiest.

A map of the First Transit routes can be seen below:

This same union and transit operator couldn't come to terms on a CBA for drivers in some East Valley cities last year, leading to a four-day strike for drivers in some parts of Tempe, Mesa, Chandler, Gilbert, Scottsdale, and Phoenix. Another company contracted for bus routes in Phoenix, Veolia Transportation, has also had recent battles with the ATU.

UPDATE 5:17 p.m.: From ATU Local 1433 president Bob Bean: "The ATU will not have any comments until after the completion of the vote Tuesday night at 6 p.m."

UPDATE December 31: ATU Local 1433 members rejected the CBA, but there's no immediate strike.

"Public Transit staff was informed this evening that the offer was rejected, but that the parties will discuss returning to the bargaining table in the coming days," a city statement says. "Currently, there are no immediate impacts to bus service. Interruptions to transit service could occur if the two parties do not return to negotiations or agree to extensions."

If you rely on bus service in Phoenix, the city says to check for any updates.

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Matthew Hendley
Contact: Matthew Hendley