News

AC Transit drivers' union wins court order to block reduced-wage contract

'It immediately puts the district in the red,' bus agency says

A judge issued a preliminary injunction Monday against AC Transit overturning a new contract that the bus agency imposed on its employees on July 18 after contract negotiations collapsed.

The old contract expired on June 30 after three months of talks failed to result in an agreement.

The board of directors at AC Transit, which serves parts of Alameda and Contra Costa counties, voted to impose a new contract on members of Amalgamated Transit Union Local 192, which represents the bus agency's 1,750 employees, including 1,200 bus drivers. The new contract took effect July 18.

Monday's ruling by Alameda County Superior Court Judge Judith Ford means the bus agency will have to honor the old contract while the union and management engage in binding arbitration.

On July 16, Alameda County Superior Court Judge Frank Roesch ordered AC Transit to enter into binding arbitration with ATU Local 192 to try to reach an agreement on a new contract. The two sides have agreed on an arbitrator, but no new talks have been scheduled so far.

AC Transit's management said it imposed the contract to save $15.7 million in labor costs to help close a projected $56 million funding gap for the two-year period ending in June 2011.

The district said it has taken other steps to reduce its budget gap in recent years, including raising fares, reducing service and cutting management positions.

Margot Rosenberg, an attorney for the union, said Friday that she thinks AC Transit's management "took a calculated risk" when it imposed the new contract after Roesch didn't explicitly state in his July 16 ruling that it couldn't do so.

But Rosenberg said she believes legal precedence prevents management from imposing new contracts on employees while negotiations are continuing.

However, the bus agency's lawyer, Raymond Lynch, argued in legal papers that, "AC Transit had no duty to maintain the terms of the expired contract."

Sam Singer, an outside spokesman for AC Transit, said if AC Transit is forced to revert to the old contract, "It immediately puts the district in the red."

The board of directors met Monday night to discuss appealing the injunction but did not reach a decision, AC Transit spokesman Clarence Johnson said.

Comments

Like this comment
Posted by Cletus the Petus
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 3, 2010 at 8:38 am

What a pathetic situation! A left-wing judge one again sides with a union to bankrupt something. AC Transit drivers, much like BART employees, earn as much or more than school teachers. AC Transit should just fire all the drivers and hire new ones. There is no great skill involved in driving a bus, and there are plenty of people that are unemployed.


Like this comment
Posted by Dominic
a resident of Del Prado
on Aug 3, 2010 at 9:14 am

Well said!
Unions only seem to make enterprises uncompetitive these days, perhaps they have outlived their usefulness.


Like this comment
Posted by susan
a resident of Pleasanton Valley
on Aug 3, 2010 at 9:20 am

This is discusting, WHY DO UNION MEMBERS RECEIVE A DIFFERENT SET OF JUSTICE THEN IN THE PRIVATE SECTOR? WE TURN BONDS INTO STOCK AGAINST ALL RIGHTS IN THE AUTO INDUSTRY AND LET UNIONS RUN THEM. Now this union dosen't want any cuts, the taxpayers that pay you HAVE RECEIVED CUTS, BUT THEIR TAXES GO UP TO PAY UNION BOSSES, SO THEY CAN MAKE LARGE POLITICAL CONTRIBUTIONS TO PROTECT THEM.


Like this comment
Posted by SteveP
a resident of Parkside
on Aug 3, 2010 at 10:12 am

SteveP is a registered user.

The union has effectively cut their own throats, since AC Transit can only offset deficits by laying off drivers. Nice work, union thugs.


Like this comment
Posted by Publius
a resident of Downtown
on Aug 3, 2010 at 1:46 pm

Steve P is mistaken, the union has not cut its own throat; the union management has cut the throats of its constituent members. When layoffs occur, and I agree with SteveP in this regard, it will be the workers who suffer. The union top leadership will remain in place and paid, as many do during strikes and other work stoppages. One is naive to accept the notion that the union leaders represent, and are concerned with, the livelihoods of the members.


Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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