Bus strike in Orange County suspended


Image courtesy of Jonathan Riley via Flickr

Following the OCTA bus strike that ended on Tuesday, the union and authorities are expected to continue discussions this week.

Melanie Vargas, Senior Copy Editor

On Monday, October 17, the Orange County Transportation Authority (OCTA) issued a statement that the expected bus strike had been canceled. The workers planned strike was set to begin at 12 A.M., which would have put a stop to routes across the area and created many difficulties for those who ride the bus to school or work. On Wednesday, November 2 the OCTA sent out an alert to all students that there will be limited bus service as soon as 4 P.M. The alert also stated that there would be no service on November 3 due to the strike.  

Starting on Thursday all fixed route OC bus services will be suspended due to the strike by maintenance workers. In a news release issued on Wednesday afternoon the union, which speaks for around 150 workers, claimed that the OCTA left the negotiating table on Monday and has since refused to engage in negotiations. For updates, OC bus passengers are urged to keep visiting the OCTA website for updates. As usual, the ACCESS service will still be available to those with handicaps. OCTA is dedicated to finding a solution and has planned to resume discussions on Friday, November 4.

Since May, there have been talks between the OCTA and Teamster Local 952, including a meeting that took place on Sunday. A governmental mediator had been appointed to assist the negotiations. The worker had approved the strike as early as 12 A.M. a week prior. In a news release, OCTA executives claimed that including the mediated meetings they had met with the union well over 20 times to discuss a new deal since their agreement had ended on September 30. 

Existing pay and healthcare expense imbalances as well as pension increases are areas union representatives claim the groups are at a halt on. A major concern was the increase in the employees’ monthly healthcare costs. In the excess of ten years had passed since the workers’ pension had been increased. Officials from OCTA stated in a news release that they were willing to continue negotiations and the union was the one who ended them. Executives of the OCTA claimed that the organization had refused to give ground on any issue.

Although OCTA’s most recent press release mentions delays potential for passengers, buses have been kept in operation to a limited extent as of October 17. Considering that negotiations are still going on, the bus strike is continuing as of now. Since the displeased workers and their relationship with OCTA have nothing to do with the free rides program, OCTA is making every effort to maintain service while negotiations are ongoing.