Santa Clarita officials announced Tuesday the city is on its way to getting local bus drivers back to work as the strike by Teamsters Union Local 572 hit the 36-day mark.
In his second public comment on the situation since the union walked off the job on Oct. 10, City Manager Ken Striplin said city staff have met several times with MV Transportation to see how it can make the situation work for MV, as well as the frustrated drivers and passengers who have crowded City Hall during the last two City Council meetings.
“I want everyone to be aware that we have, since that (Oct. 24) meeting, been in contact, had several meetings with MV Transportation, looking at a number of things within the contract to look for efficiencies, and so on and so forth,” Striplin said Tuesday.
“My understanding, after talking with MV today, is that they have reached out to the union, and will be submitting additional contract-negotiation-type stuff, and hopefully we’re on a path to get the drivers back to work,” he said to applause from the dais.
On Wednesday morning, MV Transportation still had little to say publicly with respect to any updates on the bargaining situation or any of the efficiencies that Striplin referred to, and city officials also declined to discuss the matter further.
Lea Campos, spokeswoman for the national passenger-transportation company, declined to comment Wednesday.
Lourdes Garcia, president and general counsel for Local 572, said the union has not yet received any additional updated offer as of Wednesday morning.
“I’m just here to remind you that we are still on strike,” Garcia told the City Council on Tuesday. “This is our sixth week. But as you’ve heard, it’s the money, it’s the morale, it’s the loss of health insurance — those are all things our members are dealing with day to day,” she said.
More than one commenter mentioned the timing of a planned approval for additions to the city’s fleet of renewable-energy buses on the city’s agenda for Tuesday’s meeting in the context of the ongoing labor negotiations.
Striplin addressed the timing in his comments by saying there’s a monthslong bidding and procurement process for such purchases, which started prior to the current labor situation. The planned spending was part of the city’s budgeted allocation to replace one-twelfth of its fleet each year as it becomes outdated.
City Councilwoman Laurene Weste thanked Striplin for explaining to the public and reiterated how important it is the city gets equipment when it’s needed.
“And certainly the strike will be over and you’re going to need that equipment to drive,” she told attendees Tuesday. “So let’s look at it as a positive and hope that MV gets themselves in gear before the holidays are over,” Weste said to more applause from the crowd.