Orange County Transit Strike Halts as Union Returns to Negotiations

Orange County Transit Strike Halts as Union Returns to Negotiations
Orange County Transit Strike Halts as Union Returns to Negotiations
Khushbu Kumari

Governor Gavin Newsom asked the Orange County Transportation Authority and the Teamsters Local 952 union to resume contract negotiations, seeking agreements on issues such as wages and pension increases, among others

A strike by Orange County Transportation Authority (OCTA) workers that was scheduled for Monday was postponed with the union's return to negotiations.

Just minutes before the strike was scheduled to begin at midnight, the union said it was complying with a request from California Governor Gavin Newsom for negotiations to resume .

The Teamsters Local 952 union represents about 150 mechanics and other workers.

Talks between OCTA management and the union that represents mechanics and other maintenance workers had not had the desired success and broke down on Sunday, according to reports from both sides.

When the talks failed, it was expected that in the first minute of this Monday, after midnight, the start of a strike would be declared .

Both the Orange County Transportation Authority and Teamsters Local 952 are trying to reach agreement on issues including wages, pension increases and adjustments to help lower health care costs .

OCTA is still hoping to reach an agreement with the union on a contract similar to the one reached with the bus drivers in February.

“We are offering a similar contract for maintenance employees and we hope to reach a resolution to avoid affecting bus service for those who depend on transportation,” said OCTA spokeswoman Megan Abba.

Teamsters Local 952 representative Eric Jimenez said the union prefers not to walk off the job if it can be avoided, but workers' issues need to be addressed in negotiations .

“Leaving work does nothing for the union, its members or the company, but when it comes down to it, if OCTA does not address our top concerns and our top requests, then we will walk off the job at 12:01, possibly tonight,” Jimenez declared earlier this Sunday, when the union initially broke off talks.

“OC bus is a critical public service for tens of thousands of Orange County residents and stopping service would needlessly harm those who rely on us, including students, seniors and workers who have no other means of travel. For all of our riders, I am very happy that service can continue,” OCTA President and Orange Mayor Mark A. Murphy said in a statement .

The current labor contract for maintenance and service workers expired on September 30.

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