Concerns about a possible bus-driver strike in Phoenix have been put to rest, now that union heads and the city's contracted bus service have come to an agreement.
A possible strike has been looming for a couple of months now, as members of the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1433 last month rejected the collective bargaining agreement offered by First Transit Inc. The company had called the proposal its "best and final offer," although the drivers' union voted against going on strike.
Today, Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton announced that both sides finally came to an agreement, thus effectively ending the threat of a strike.
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"For so many working families in west Phoenix, these bus drivers, these buses, are their way to get to work, to get to school, to get to church, to get to doctor's appointments -- it is their way to live their life," Stanton says.
Stanton said he had been part of the all-night negotiations between the union and First Transit, which came to an agreement at 5:20 a.m. today.
The agreement still needs to be approved by union members in a vote next week, but union heads sounded confident that they'll pass the deal, with their recommendation.
"We think our members will accept the deal when they look at it," ATU 1433 treasurer Michael Cornelius says.
Specifics of the agreement weren't released, as Stanton pointed to it not being official yet without the union members' votes. He also declined to identify any particular point of contention between the two sides.
A note to members on the union website before they voted down the previous offer mentioned increasing insurance costs to drivers.
Stanton did say that the new agreement would be good for three years.
The mayor also mentioned that the city had created a contingency plan if the drivers did end up going on strike amid all of the Super Bowl-related activities, which would have involved bringing in other drivers to operate the routes. That plan ""was going to be very, very expensive," Stanton says.
It's unknown exactly how many people would have been 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:
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