Phoenix bus drivers back to work today
Buses are rolling on a near normal schedule in Phoenix a day after Veoila Transportation Services and Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1433 came to an agreement, ending a six-day strike.
According to the Arizona Republic, the Valley Metro bus system won’t be fully restored Friday, though. About 310 Veolia Tempe drivers who work under a separate contract are still on strike. Tempe drivers will vote on their contract today. If it is approved, Tempe bus service will be restored Saturday. Tempe drivers operate 19 of 101 Valley Metro routes.
The new five-year contract ends 22-months of contentious negotiations and a weeklong strike where union officials accused Veolia of unfair labor practices and bad-faith bargaining. In a Tuesday editorial in the Republic, Ken Westbrook, president of Veolia’s transit division, apologized for the disruption of service, then theorized the strike was “being choreographed in Washington, D.C., because ATU Local 1433 is taking its cue from its national leadership.”
The union’s website announced the agreement, mentioning 97 percent of the rank and file voted for the agreement, while 3 percent voted to reject it. The online announcement gave the union a final swipe at Veoila, claiming the workers’ value of work under the union had been preserved and protecting, adding “the attack on these workers is OVER!!!!!”
Veolia spokeswoman Valerie Michael said the turnaround came because of the union’s willingness to bargain this week.
The strike could have continued if not for Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton had called for a key Phoenix City Council meeting on Thursday morning the council voted 6-2 to adjust how it charges Veolia for failing to run bus services on time, giving the company financial relief that it had said it needed to reach a wage-and-benefit deal with drivers.