Teamsters Local Union 104’s Unfair Labor Practice strike against Sun Tran has now begun its fourth week with no end in sight. Day twenty two begins the same as the previous twenty one days with the striking employees and their supporters continuing to walk the picket lines at the Ronstadt Transit Center in downtown Tucson, as well as the north and south facilities.
The Teamsters Union and the striking employees understand the importance of pursuing every possible solution to resolving this ongoing strike, however, the solution to any disagreement requires that both of the opposing parties involved in the dispute actually participate in the resolution process. For fourteen days, the Teamsters and the striking employees continued to be the only one of the two sides involved in this dispute who made any legitimate attempt at all to resolve the ongoing strike.
On Thursday, August 13, 2015, the Teamsters presented a comprehensive proposal to Sun Tran through the Federal Mediator that significantly reduced the economic cost of the Union’s previous proposal and offered to return to the negotiating table. Sun Tran contacted the Federal Mediator on Friday afternoon, August 14, 2015, and informed him that they had reviewed and costed the Union’s comprehensive proposal and had determined it to be economically unfeasible. Therefore, Sun Tran’s firm and final offer presented to the Union on Friday, July 31, 2015, which was overwhelmingly rejected by a vote of 363 no to 4 yes votes, remained in place and unchanged and still remained the only offer being made by Sun Tran to the Teamsters and the striking employees.
The citizens of the Tucson metropolitan area deserve to hear the truth, backed up with factual proof, about what is really going on with the SunTran strike and the lack of any meaningful good faith negotiations on the part of SunTran to settle the strike. The Teamsters and the striking employees of SunTran have listened to more than enough of SunTran management’s misleading and disingenuous statements.
Who has the authority to direct SunTran to return to the negotiating table, bargain in good faith, and settle this strike?
What entity has the responsibility to do whatever it takes to bring about a fair and equitable resolution to this strike?
Here are the facts. The City of Tucson hired Professional Transit Management (PTM), a subsidiary of Transdev, to manage and operate SunTran. PTM works for the Tucson Department of Transportation. The Tucson Department of Transportation works for, and is directed by, the City Manager. The City Manager works for, and is directed by, the Mayor and City Council. The Mayor and City Council are elected by, and work for, the citizens of Tucson. It doesn’t get any clearer than that. Council members Cunningham, Uhlich, Romero and Fimbres have all expressed their opinion that they are hopeful that a fair settlement can be reached between SunTran and the Teamsters, however, that is the extent of their involvement. The Mayor and Council have repeatedly stated that they are prohibited by law from getting involved in the negotiations and cite a legal opinion that has been issued in the past by the City Attorney. That legal opinion is just that, an opinion, and frankly it is an opinion that is open to dispute. Regardless of that legal opinion, the Mayor and Council have every right, and quite frankly they bear the responsibility, to direct the City Manager and the Tucson Department of Transportation to take whatever steps are necessary to ensure that PTM is instructed to bargain in good faith and reach a fair and equitable settlement of the SunTran strike.
SunTran has never provided the Teamsters, or the Federal Mediator, with a detailed breakdown, or any information at all, to explain or backup their costing of the August 13, 2015 proposal that the Teamsters provided to them through the Federal Mediator. Instead, SunTran management has continued to provide the media with misleading and incorrect information regarding that proposal in an attempt to influence public opinion, all while specifically requesting in writing through the Federal Mediator that any proposals that SunTran may make, or any discussions that SunTran is a party to, be subject to a media blackout. The hypocrisy and audacity exhibited by SunTran management in requesting a media blackout is stunning, especially after SunTran General Manager Kate Riley’s inflammatory editorial which was published in Wednesday’s Arizona Daily Star on the very day that she presented the Federal Mediator with a regressive proposal that she specifically requested be kept from the media.
Sun Tran management’s most recent proposal was presented to the Teamsters by the Federal Mediator on August 26, 2015. The Teamsters have examined and costed the proposal and have found it to be a worse proposal than the firm and final proposal that the striking employees overwhelmingly rejected by more than 98% on August 1, 2015.
The August 26, 2015, proposal does nothing to even address, let alone resolve, the ongoing mold contamination problems that exists at the north facility and on the buses. Nor does it address, or resolve, the ongoing issue of drivers being assaulted, which is unacceptable. The economic package being offered in the August 26, 2015 proposal from SunTran is less than the economic package that was offered in the rejected August 1, 2015, firm and final offer.
The total money being offered in year 1 has been reduced from $0.54, which was divided between Pension, Health & Welfare, an additional Holiday, and a $0.50 raise to new hires, to $0.42, which is in the form of an hourly pay increase for each employee.
The total money being offered in year 2 has been reduced from $0.39, which was divided between Pension, Health & Welfare, an additional Holiday, and a $0.50 raise to new hires, to $0.24, which is in the form of an hourly pay increase for each employee.
The total money being offered in year 3 has been reduced from $0.39, which was divided between Pension, Health & Welfare, an additional Holiday, and a $0.50 raise to new hires, to $0.24, which is in the form of an hourly pay increase for each employee.
SunTran and the City of Tucson have saved more than $2 million dollars in the payment of wages and pension alone during the 25 days of this strike. They have saved more than an additional $750,000 in fuel savings and operational costs during the 25 days of this strike by running a very limited number of routes and a greatly reduced bus service. It is unconscionable and unacceptable that the City of Tucson and SunTran are refusing to utilize every penny of the $2.75 million in savings that have been realized on the backs of the striking employees and the stranded passengers, to help settle this strike.
SunTran’s August 26, 2015 proposal was accompanied by a letter from General Manager Kate Riley (which can be read in its entirety at www.teamsterslocal104.com and on FaceBook: Teamsters Local 104) in which she proposes discussing a revenue sharing opportunity with the Union negotiating committee. That proposal would share a maximum of 25% of any farebox revenue over the last three years average of approximately $12 million annually. Ms. Riley states that one way to increase revenue is to increase ridership. Yet Ms. Riley has clearly demonstrated that her preferred methods of increasing revenue are to raise fares while at the same time reducing service.
Teamsters Local Union 104 supports the Bus Riders Union and their ongoing fight to keep Sun Tran’s fares at their current rates and keep all current bus routes and schedules as they exist today. Eliminating bus routes and increasing the price to ride the bus negatively impacts the very people who rely on Sun Tran the most and who can least afford any added expenses to their already stretched budgets. Year after year, residents of the Tucson metro area are forced to deal with the fact that Sun Tran management claims that they don’t have enough money to operate the bus system without eliminating service on selected routes and raising fares and that they don’t have enough money to offer Sun Tran employees a fair contract, one that they can vote to accept rather than reject by a margin of 363 no to 4 yes votes.
Utilize the following links to view the commercials/videos and learn about the issues at the heart of this strike:
Assault English Assault Spanish Assault 2.0 English I am worthy
Mold English Mold Spanish Mold English 2.0 soy digno
Maintenance English Maintenance Spanish Mold Spanish New 30 Sec
Financial Budget Audit English 2.0 Financial Budget Audit Spanish Strike Savings by Sun Tran
Teamsters Local 104 and the striking SunTran employees would like to take this opportunity to thank all of the Labor Organizations, the Bus Riders Union, the Community and Businesses who have supported us and made donations of every kind. Your support is greatly appreciated and will always be remembered!