Without a deal, bus workers' contract ends Wednesday night - Tucson News Now

Without a deal, bus workers' contract ends Wednesday night

TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) -

The union representing more than 500 Sun Tran workers shot down the latest deal offered to them by their employee Saturday night, according to Teamster Local Union 104 Principal Executive Officer Andy Marshall.

He said Sunday afternoon that after negotiations have been going on for months, they’ll keep working on a deal during the final days before the current contract ends at 11:59 p.m. on Wednesday.

"We will try everything possible to reach a resolution, short of a work stoppage, because of the severe impact that has,” said Marshall. “We understand what a devastating effect that can have, not only on our employees who won't be working, but the people who depend on the transit system for their everyday lives."

Sun Tran recorded more than 20 million trips on its various modes of transportation, according to a fact sheet listed on the company website. The same site includes a job posting for a full-time coach operator that pays $13.30 an hour after the new hire has been fully trained.

Marshall, who couldn’t share details about the most recent deal that was offered, said there are several issues keeping the two groups from coming to terms. However, he said employees are upset with their paychecks staying at the same level since they started years ago.

“Right now we have 136 people that started at $13.30 an hour and are still stuck at $13.30 an hour,” he said. “And if the wage progression isn’t unfrozen, we’ll be still stuck at that two years from now.”

Marshall has done this twice already in the last four years. The 2012 negotiations lasted until recently, when a temporary contracted had to be approved. Before that, the workers went on strike for about a week in 2010.

The union leader said a steady source of financial support for the Sun Tran system would reduce the need for contract negotiations every couple of years.

“it’s always a struggle for the city of Tucson to find enough money for the transit system,” said Marshall.

Teamsters Local Union 104 does not represent Sun Link employees, but Marshall said he will be speaking with them in the near future about joining the union.

Messages into Sun Tran for comment were not returned by the time of this report.

A spokesperson for the city of Tucson said she expects meetings on this situation to take place sometime Monday, when staff returns to work and more information is available.

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