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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Sun Tran and Teamsters negotiate contract, avoid bus strike

Cecilia+Alvarez+%2F+The+Daily+Wildcat%0A%0AThe+Suntran+stops+at+the+University+of+Arizona+mall+on+March+26%2C+2014.+
Cecilia Alvarez
Cecilia Alvarez / The Daily Wildcat The Suntran stops at the University of Arizona mall on March 26, 2014.

After days of labor negotiations, Sun Tran officials and representatives of Teamsters Local 104 have officially announced a new one-year contract on Thursday.

With the possibility of a worker strike looming, affiliates of both parties met over the span of multiple days to work out a new contract and avoid the possibility of union members authorizing a work stoppage.

Compensation disputes are allegedly what triggered the labor union to take action. According to a press release, Sun Tran reportedly requested a raise for its employees as well as a certain package of benefits. The resulting negotiation period caused a lot of uncertainty for Sun Tran riders who, in the event of a strike, would have been urged to start finding alternative means of transportation. The contract extension was set to expire at 11:59 p.m. on Wednesday and if an agreement was still not reached at that time, union members may have authorized a work stoppage the following day.

“We continue to be hopeful an agreement can be reached prior to the expiration of the contract extension,” said Kate Riley, general manager of Sun Tran. “We encourage riders to plan accordingly and identify potential transportation alternatives in case a service disruption is called.”

Sun Tran was prepared to offer limited service along select routes throughout the week if an agreement was not met, as well as limited weekday service on many of the routes.

Luckily for Sun Tran passengers, a tentative agreement was met on Wednesday in which both sides were in compliance to briefly extend the current contract to allow the members the opportunity to vote on the final contract proposal.

On Thursday, both parties agreed on a new contract, which stayed within the adopted 2015 budget and was ratified with a vote of 292 to 93.

Sun Tran has agreed to a $1 million package that includes one-time wage adjustment for all bargaining unit employees who have been employed longer than six months and are not in the top rate wage level. The plan also includes a one-time wage adjustment for individuals at the top rate of 40 cents on Aug. 1, 2014 and an additional 10 cents on Feb. 1, 2015.

Top rate mechanics would earn $22.66 per hour and drivers would earn $19.22 per hour by Feb. 1, 2015, which is an improved rate.

The new contract also states that Sun Tran will continue to contribute 100 percent of monthly health and welfare premiums for bargaining unit employees and their dependents and raise hourly contributions to the Teamster pension fund by 1 percent.

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