Orange County bus mechanics, machinists and techs to begin strike, halting service

About 150 mechanics, machinists and service technicians at the Orange County Transportation Authority are expected to go on strike Wednesday after contract negotiations between the Teamsters union and OCTA broke down, the union said.

The disruption, which will disrupt bus service across Orange County, comes two weeks after a walkout appeared to have been averted.

Disruptions could begin as early as Wednesday night, and OCTA said there will be no OC bus service starting Thursday.

“The industrial action comes after union OCTA tabled another proposal and they walked away from the negotiating table on Monday 31 October without reply,” the union said in a press release on Wednesday. The dispute appears to be centered on healthcare and other costs.

OCTA called the move “unnecessary.”

“We are very disappointed that union leaders have taken this drastic action and called for a strike,” Orange Mayor and OCTA Chairman Mark Murphy said in a press release. “We know that every disruption to bus service hurts the people in our community who rely on OC Bus to get them where they need to be, whether it’s work or school.”

Local 952 Secretary and Treasurer Eric Jimenez confirmed the impact the strike will have.

“We understand how this industrial action will affect thousands of drivers who depend on the bus system for their transportation needs,” Jimenez said in a press release. “We did everything in our power to avoid a strike. They even rejected our suggestions that would save them money on members’ health care.”

A strike appeared to be avoided this month when Gov. Gavin Newsom asked that the two sides continue negotiations.

The 150 mechanics, service workers and technicians began negotiations in May to replace a contract that expired on September 30, the union said.

The two sides continued to negotiate until talks appeared to deteriorate this week. The union also represents OCTA’s bus operators, who signed a three-year deal with the agency in February.

“We believe the contract offer that we made to maintenance workers is consistent with what was offered to our bus operators and other union workers,” Murphy said.

But Jimenez said the union will only return to negotiations “if OCTA significantly changes its bargaining position.”

“We have asked our members to be patient and to continue working without an agreement with the utmost professionalism…only to have OCTA continually refuse to negotiate in good faith and disrespect us by opting out of negotiations,” he said. Orange County bus mechanics, machinists and techs to begin strike, halting service

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