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Sky Harbor Airport Shuttle Drivers Go on Strike

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Some bus drivers and curbside "ambassadors" at Phoenix Sky Harbor airport have gone on strike.

The workers are employed by a transportation company called Veolia, which is under contract with the city for the airport service. Amalgamated Transit Union officials say the contract dispute revolves around about 10 issues, including health care plan costs.

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Recall that in 2012, city bus drivers from Phoenix and Tempe also went on strike after failing to reach an employment contract agreement with the same company.

The strike effects the shuttles that go between the terminals and the rental car complex, as well as some of the buses that go between terminals.

Airport officials say in a statement that they're operating 80 to 100 percent of these buses using a contingency plan. A call and e-mail to airport officials for details on this contingency plan weren't immediately returned.

UPDATE 1:29 p.m.: An airport spokeswoman tells us Veolia is providing the drivers is has from other local contracts. She adds that the only delays experienced so far are "a couple minutes here and there," mostly around the rental-car complex.

Although the airport is warning travelers to allow an extra 10 to 15 minutes if they're renting a car or need to go between terminals, the strike doesn't seem to be affecting much in day one -- a post to the official Sky Harbor Twitter this morning said, "Rental car customers sometimes waiting about 3 minutes extra."

There's also the fact that the PHX Sky Train is still in operation, as it goes between the Light Rail, the east economy parking garage, and Terminal 4 at the airport -- the busiest terminal, by far. The Sky Train will also connect to Terminal 3 next year, which will probably minimize the role of the shuttle drivers even more.

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Follow Matthew Hendley at @MatthewHendley.

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