Tempe bus drivers join Phoenix colleagues in bus strike


by 3TV and Associated Press

Video reports by Carina Sonn and Tess Rafols

Posted on March 10, 2012 at 6:45 AM

Updated Saturday, Mar 10 at 7:40 PM

PHOENIX and TEMPE, Ariz. -- Tempe officials say more than 300 bus drivers are on strike after labor talks broke down.

City officials said in a statement Saturday that Amalgamated Transit Union local 1433 has called a strike for the 310 drivers who operate on lines serving Tempe.

The announcement came hours after more than 600 Phoenix drivers walked off the job just after midnight.

Veolia Transportation Services and the union failed to end a nearly two-year dispute over wage and benefit terms such as sick-leave accrual, retirement benefits and health care coverage.

Altogether, 31 routes in Phoenix and 19 in Tempe are affected, but those routes also serve neighboring cities that make up the metropolitan Phoenix area.

Veolia negotiator Thomas Hock says there's a contract offer on the table that includes raises over five years.

A strike won't  completely stop Phoenix bus service. Veolia is required to provide at least 60 percent of normal service levels, equivalent to a Sunday level of service.

Bus operators represented by the union drive 31 of the 101 Valley Metro routes in the regional system. 

Veolia/Phoenix routes can be seen at http://www.phoenix.gov/publictransit/wsRoutesPhxcontractor.pdf/

Passenger Information: Bus schedules on line at ValleyMetro.org or by calling Valley Metro customer service at (602) 253-5000 during business hours.