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AC Transit expects bus service to continue today despite court order to send drivers' contract dispute to arbitration

District also plans to impose its final contract offer starting today

AC Transit buses are expected to keep serving passengers today despite a ruling Friday by an Alameda County Superior Court judge ruled that the agency and drivers' union must send their contract dispute to arbitration.

AC Transit's Interim General Manager Mary King said that because the court did not prevent management from implementing its last and best contract offer, the newly adopted contract by the district's board of directors also will take effect today as planned.

Amalgamated Transit Union, Local 192, which represents the drivers, has been unable to reach an agreement with AC Transit on a new contract. Although it's unclear what action ATU may take in response to the decision by AC Transit to move ahead with its new contract, Superior Court Judge Frank Roesch has indicated that under the collective bargaining agreement the union cannot strike during pending arbitration, and the union has agreed not to do so.

As a result, the District is proceeding with its intent to keep buses running.

"While we engage in these legal proceedings, the most important thing is that service continues to our riders with as little disruption as possible," King said. "Our mission is to provide safe, sustainable public transit during these difficult economic times, and we will continue to do so."

Consequently, the Board of Directors and management of AC Transit is encouraging its 1,750 unionized employees to stay on the job and continue to provide vital bus service to the public while the arbitration process runs its course.

As outlined by Roesch, if the district and the parties representing ATU cannot agree on the selection of an arbitrator by Friday, they will return to his court on July 27 and Roesch will select an arbitrator.

As of now, AC Transit is considering its options with respect to an appeal of the judge's ruling.

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