VTA Faces Workers’ Strike If Union Votes Down Final Offer

The Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority is facing its first-ever bus driver strike if a union vote Wednesday over VTA’s salary and pension offers does not end favorably.

The VTA and Amalgamated Transit Union Local 265 have been in talks since last August to finalize a new labor contact. They’ve reached 37 tentative agreements, but the two groups have been tied up over a wage increase and the VTA’s push for union members to begin making larger contributions toward their pensions.

About 1,300 “classic employees” in the union currently pay 1.9 percent of their gross salary toward a 6 percent employee pension contribution, according to VTA spokeswoman Brandi Childress, and VTA pays the remainder. Non-union employees pay the full employee contribution, and any employees hired after 2016 also pay the full amount.

VTA has offered a 3.1 percent lump sum of each employee’s salary over the next three years to transition the classic employees into increasing their contribution to 5 percent, but this lump sum will only offset the first year of increased expenses for union workers.

Childress says VTA and the union have reached an “impasse” over a proposed 8 percent base wage increase and the pension contribution, which VTA believes is “fair and equitable” to all employees.

Union voting on VTA’s final offer is expected to conclude by 10 p.m. Wednesday, after which the union will decide if a strike is in order to have their demands met.

John Courtney, ATU recording and financial secretary, indicated in a tweet on Monday night that the union would shoot down the offer.

“I can tell you the ATU will vote the Last Best and Final offer down on Wednesday. It will be an overwhelming NO vote! ALL BETS ARE OFF AFTER Wednesday,” the tweet said.

Childress said the state government could then implement a “cooling period” and push the two parties to return to the table. Workers are also required to give a 72-hour notice for any work stoppage. If a strike does happen, it could take place as early as the first week of July.

This post was originally posted at http://www.nbcbayarea.com/news/local/VTA-Faces-Workers-Strike-If-Union-Votes-Down-Final-Offer-511551011.html.

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