Future uncertain as end of contract for Sun Tran drivers nears - Tucson News Now

Future uncertain as end of contract for Sun Tran drivers nears

(Source: Tucson News Now) (Source: Tucson News Now)
TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) -

Unless an agreement is reached in the news few hours, the Sun Tran and Teamsters contract will expire without a new one in place.

What that means is still up in the air although there are several alternatives, many of which will play out on Saturday, July 1 when the 530 bus drivers meet at the IBEW union hall on South Tucson Blvd.

A Facebook post tells the drivers it could be one of several options, including a strike vote or a vote on a new contract.

One other possibility is an extension giving the parties more time to come to an agreement, especially if they are close.

The city of Tucson, Teamsters and Transdev, the SunTran management firm, hope to avoid a repeat of 2015 that resulted in a 42 day strike.

The negotiation teams have been quiet on the issues, not responding to media requests on what might be on the table.

Issues two years ago included safety, salary and health.

Since the strike, a few buses have been fitted with protective cages for the drivers, some mold issues have been corrected, and salaries have risen.

Most drivers received a bonus of $3,303 to help defray the costs of the strike and a pay increase from $.10 to $.30 an hour. A handful of workers on the low end of the scale received a $5 dollar boost.

Some of the drivers who opened up informally said pay is likely an issue again since voters passed Proposition 206 giving low wage workers a $2 an hour pay hike in the minimum wage by 2020.

It would stand to reason the drivers would support a longer term contract to stair step pay increases. However, that has not been confirmed by the negotiating teams.

The contract expires at midnight and passengers are hoping there is an agreement. 

"Two years ago it was really hard for me to get to work and back home," said Patricia Banker. "I has to walk 10 to 15 blocks to my house everyday."

"I'm hoping it doesn't happen again," said Elizabeth Arnold, who needed four hours a day to get to work and home during the strike two years ago. "I can't afford a cab, that's expensive. 

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