Aug 4 Union bus drivers reached a contract
agreement with managers on Sunday to end a four-day strike that
left 57,000 Phoenix-area commuters scrambling for alternate
routes to work, officials said.
Union officials said striking drivers are expected to return
to work in time for the Monday morning commute after marathon
negotiations produced a tentative three-year pact between
Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1433 and bus operator First
Transit Inc, which is part of FirstGroup Plc.
"It's been a long, hard fight and we feel we have a good
contract to take back to our members," said Bob Bean, the union
local's president. "We're happy we got it done today so the
public has access to buses again and kids can go to school
The Arizona strike left riders on 40 mostly suburban routes
without service in the cities of Chandler, Gilbert, Mesa and
Tempe and other routes that reached into Phoenix and Scottsdale.
Most bus routes serving Phoenix are run by different
companies and were not affected. A limited light rail system
that serves the Phoenix valley also remained running.
Negotiators hammered out the final contract details in a
24-hour-plus bargaining session that ended at midday on Sunday.
The deal included what union officials said were last-minute
agreements on time spent on the job by drivers and health care
No wage-related details were immediately released. The pact
must be approved by rank-and-file bus drivers, with voting to
occur over the next 10 days.
The union's Bean said picket lines will be withdrawn
immediately as a show of good faith.
Nick Promponas, First Transit's senior vice president, said
the company was confident that the agreement "serves the best
interests" of all those involved.
"While we regret that a strike was not averted during the
course of the negotiations, we appreciate that the ATU (union)
has shared our desire to resume transit service throughout the
community as quickly as possible," Promponas said in a
First Transit and union officials were embroiled in talks
since the beginning of the year to forge a contract for the
roughly 400 drivers who walked off the job early on Thursday.
During the strike, commuters had to drive their own
vehicles, carpool, bicycle or walk to work in more than
100-degree Fahrenheit temperatures.
The agreement came just in time for thousands of students
who take to the bus to and from school. Schools will start for
many students on Monday.
(Editing by Jane Sutton and Stacey Joyce)