This post is part of our coverage on water, waste, energy and transportation issues of interest to the local Bay Area community.
Here is a check-in on the ongoing budget crisis within AC Transit, the East Bay’s bus system:
Despite months of negotiations and meetings, AC Transit and the union representing most of its workers, the Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU), Local 192 have so far been unable to reach a mutually acceptable strategy to close the $56 million deficit facing the agency by the close of 2011.
June 30th represented a milestone in the negotiations- that was the day that the ATU’s previous contract terms expired. The process has nonetheless stagnated. AC Transit Director Greg Harper is quoted in the AC Transit News as commenting, “I think we are definitely at an impasse because the union has so far offered less than 50 percent of what is needed to close the budget deficit.”
The Agency is looking to recoup 8 to 9 percent of employment costs in the new contract. The grim financial scenario has already resulted in fee hikes for riders, service cuts, layoffs, and 5% salary cuts for the board of directors. With a 75% share of the operating budget being allocated to employee costs, the Board of Directors is maintaining that shortfalls cannot be met without some concessions from the union.
The declared impasse and revised terms of employment, effective July 18, have been laid out by the Board of Directors. It remains uncertain if a strike will be avoided.