OCTA bus driver’s strike update

Both the Times O.C. edition and the O.C. Register covered the OCTA bus driver’s strike today.

Here are the most interesting excerpts from the Times article:

Some stranded riders sat for 30 minutes and others, like Virginia Pedroza, camped out for hours before being told about the strike.

County transit authorities said the extent of disruption Saturday and today will be less than during the work week because only about half of the county’s riders use the buses on weekends. But with only 31 of 81 routes in service, they acknowledged that the Monday morning commute will be “impacted greatly.”

“We’ve done everything we could to keep negotiations going,” said Carolyn Cavecche, Orange County Transportation Authority chairwoman.

“We’ve told the union that we are ready and willing to negotiate any time of the day or night.” Joel Zlotnick, an OCTA spokesman, said the agency met 52 times over four months with union leaders and offered two contract extensions.

Union leaders expressed disappointment that the OCTA did not come up with more money. “If we have a situation where one of the wealthiest transit agencies in California isn’t stepping up to the table, what kind of message is that sending to commuters?” said Patrick Kelly, secretary-treasurer of Teamsters Local 952.

OCTA officials said the county’s surface streets and freeways should see a little more congestion, but not much. Cavecche said about 70% of OCTA riders don’t have access to a car and half are members of families making $22,000 a year or less.

The most heavily traveled route, route 43 from Fullerton to Costa Mesa along Harbor Boulevard, will be staffed by supervisors on weekdays, running every 30 minutes from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. Normal service runs well past 6 p.m. During the strike, all bus rides will be free except for ACCESS service.

He said transit negotiators increased their offer to $209 million in the afternoon, an $18-million increase from the three-year contract that has expired. But just before midnight, Leahy said, the Teamsters countered at $209.7 million, a $200,000 increase from their previous demand.

Leahy said the 14.6% raise in wages and benefits in the OCTA deal would give younger drivers, those with five years or less of experience, an hourly wage of $14.27. Top drivers would make $23.87 an hour.

“The union took any pay increase to the younger drivers off the table [Friday],” Cavecche said. “They chose to divert that money to older drivers and the Teamsters’ pension.”

Cavecche said striking drivers will be forgoing about $1.5 million in salary each week.

The OCTA said it planned to post fliers at bus terminals to inform people about the strike.

And here are a few excerpts from the Register article:

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"Admin" is just editors Vern Nelson, Greg Diamond, or Ryan Cantor sharing something that they mostly didn't write themselves, but think you should see. Before December 2010, "Admin" may have been former blog owner Art Pedroza.