City transit workers were expected to go on strike as early as Monday, but to the surprise of some bus drivers, they did not.
The city of Santa Clarita and the William S. Hart Union High School District both sent out press releases last week warning residents that an impending strike could alter how people get to work and school and urged them to prepare to explore alternate options if one were to occur.
Both entities believed transit workers would go on strike and it would result in most local routes, and all commuter routes, being suspended. A city bus driver, who spoke to The Signal on condition of anonymity, said drivers showed up to work on Monday fully expecting to go on strike.
“We all showed up to work and I think it caught everybody off guard,” said the driver. “I think they basically just don’t know what’s going on and we don’t know what’s going on. Our union is telling us absolutely nothing. I know the drivers are all frustrated. They want action, we want something done but the union is just not even talking.”
On Sept. 15, MV Transportation, which partners with the city for transit services, was made aware that Teamsters Local 572 had authorized a strike if workers felt their demands were not met, and it seems as though they were not.
“Since October 2022, MV has presented several comprehensive proposals to our valued union employees, with our most recent offer including annual wage increases, benefit cost sharing and improved scheduling of hours, among other enhancements,” read a statement from MV Transportation on Sept. 15. “We are disappointed that the members of Teamsters Local 572 have voted to authorize a strike, potentially placing the burden on Santa Clarita’s most vulnerable citizens, if the members do choose to go on strike. MV continues to participate in good faith negotiations in hopes of reaching a mutually beneficial agreement.”
It’s unclear what the demands of the workers were, but the offer presented by MV Transportation did not seem to sit well with them. The wages offered were $19.75 per hour to start, with an increase in pay of $0.25 after a year, a $0.10 increase after two years, another $0.10 increase after three years, a $0.15 increase after four years and a $0.75 increase after five or more years from a driver’s start date.
“Starting pay is less than what fast food’s gonna be making next year, the pay is crap,” said the driver. “They’re making it seem like, ‘Oh, we’ve had these good faith negotiations’ and all this crap. We’ve had nothing. They’ve been jerking us around for 13 months.”
Bus drivers also seemed to be frustrated at the fact that the Teamsters have not been in contact with them. The driver who spoke to The Signal theorized that the original plan was to strike on the first Monday of the month, but it may have been delayed for strategic reasons.
At the time of this publication, a date as to when the bus drivers may go on strike is unknown. MV Transportation and Teamsters Local 572 were not immediately available for comment.
“The city has been aware that a strike is a possibility and we have been communicating with our riders via social media and alerts to make sure that they know to make alternate plans for transportation in the event that it happens,” said Carrie Lujan, spokeswoman for the city of Santa Clarita.
Neither the city of Santa Clarita nor the Hart district are involved in the negotiations — the contract dispute is between the MV Transportation and Teamsters Local 572.
The following link was provided with information on alternative transportation resources and answers to questions regarding which services are available and how school activities will be affected: tinyurl.com/25frphk7.