About 150 mechanics, machinists and service technicians employed by the Orange County Transportation Authority are expected to strike Wednesday after contract negotiations between the Teamsters union and OCTA broke down, the union said.
The stoppage, which will disrupt bus service across Orange County, comes two weeks after a strike appeared to have been averted.
Disruptions could begin as early as Wednesday evening, and OCTA said there will be no OC Bus service beginning Thursday.
“The labor action comes after the union presented another proposal to OCTA and they walked away from the bargaining table on Monday, Oct. 31 without responding,” the union said in a release Wednesday. The dispute seems to be centered on healthcare and other costs.
OCTA called the move “unnecessary.”
“We are extremely disappointed that union leaders took this drastic action and called for a strike,” Orange Mayor and OCTA Chairman Mark Murphy said in a release. “We know that any interruption in bus service hurts the people in our community who rely on OC Bus to get where they need to be, whether that’s jobs or to school.”
Local 952 Secretary-Treasurer Eric Jimenez acknowledged the impacts the strike will have.
“We understand how this labor dispute will adversely affect thousands of riders who depend on the bus system for their transportation needs,” Jimenez said in a release. “We have done everything in our power to avoid a strike. They have even rejected our proposals that would save them money on members’ healthcare.”
A strike appeared to be avoided this month when Gov. Gavin Newsom requested that the two sides continue to negotiate.
The 150 mechanics, service workers and techs began negotiating in May to replace a contract that expired Sept. 30, the union said.
The two sides continued to negotiate until talks apparently deteriorated this week. The union also represents OCTA’s bus operators, who reached a three-year contract with the agency in February.
“We believe the contract offer we’ve made to maintenance employees is in line with what was offered to our coach operators and other union workers,” Murphy said.
But Jimenez said the union would return to negotiations only “when OCTA significantly modifies their bargaining position.”
“We have asked our members to be patient and continue working with the utmost professionalism without an agreement … only to have OCTA continually refuse to bargain in good faith and disrespect us by walking out of negotiations,” he said.