MTS reaches deal with some, but not all, drivers

Local 683 agreed to a contract Sunday. But Local 542 is still waiting

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Hundreds of San Diego's union bus drivers returned to work Monday. Thousands of their passengers were relieved. However, roughly 200 drivers are still on a picket line.

“I am very happy. Very, very happy,” said Dino Sinquimani, who rides the bus almost daily.

Teamsters Local 683 and its roughly 480 drivers reached an agreement over the weekend with MTS contractor Transdev ending a five-week long strike. That strike crippled transportation in San Diego’s South Bay communities.

“I waited for one bus for two-and-a-half hours,” exclaimed Sinquimani.

That changed Monday morning when drivers slowly returned to their buses.

“As the bus operators come on site there’s a screening/interview process to ensure they are fit to drive before being deployed on routes,” explained MTS Director of Communications Mark Olson. “This is an extra safety precaution because they haven’t been behind the wheel in some time.”

MTS Access and minibus service still on strike

At the same time, Transdev still had not reached an agreement with Teamsters Local 542, whose roughly 200 drivers operate the MTS paratransit fleet of minibuses and Access vehicles all around San Diego County.

“We’re going to stand out here as long as it takes to get justice,” said Matthew Snyder, a business representative for Local 542.

He said Transdev offered a contract Friday after more than four weeks on strike.

“It was still a subpar offer. We voted it and it was rejected by 99.1%,” said Snyder. “A shock that this level of a company, international multi-billion-dollar company [Transdev] looks at their workers in America like this.”

“We’re not asking for more than what anybody else in this area has. We’re actually asking for less,” continued Snyder.

He explained Local 542 is actually asking for something similar to Local 683’s old contract that expired in December.

“We’re not even trying to get to where they’re at now with this new offer. We’re trying to get below that,” he said. “We would love nothing more than to go back to our buses and to serve the community like we like to.”

MTS and Transdev did not respond to questions about the Local 542 strike. Snyder said they are looking for better pay and improved working conditions including access to restrooms during shifts.

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