Bus riders who rely on the Orange County Transit Authority will need alternative travel plans Monday morning as the agency’s maintenance employees voted unanimously to strike beginning at 12:01 a.m.
The move is expected to shut down all bus service in the county.
“We know this service interruption impacts the passengers who rely on us,” OCTA said in a notice on its website. “OCTA is ready and willing to continue negotiating with the union that called the strike to reach a successful resolution and restore bus service as soon as possible.”
About 150 mechanics, service workers and machinists with the OCTA have been working under an expired contract since Sept. 30, according to Teamsters Local 952, which represents the striking workers. Negotiations began May 25, and the union has met with OCTA more than 20 times.
“We remain committed to doing what it takes to avoid a labor action that would disrupt transportation services for thousands of daily Orange County riders,” said Eric Jimenez, Local 952 Secretary-Treasurer in a statement Wednesday. “However, we stand united with our members in the fight for a fair and equitable agreement.”
The union said it voted to strike Wednesday, after the Orange County Transportation Authority “refused to address key health and welfare issues” and offered a “substandard final contract offer.”
Union members are hoping for improved healthcare packages that would allow them to pay less out-of-pocket. Jimenez said some members pay $350 a month for healthcare and that OCTA’s proposal would increase their costs to $400 to $500 in the next two years or so.
In February, the union reached a three-year contract with OCTA for its bus operators.