Santa Clarita Transit’s drivers are back behind the wheel as of Monday.
The union met Sunday and agreed to terms that would end the strike by Teamsters Union Local 572 after eight weeks.
“It’s a little bittersweet, right,” said Lourdes Garcia, the union’s secretary-treasurer, in a phone interview Sunday, “but it’s a good thing for our members. They’ll be back at work starting (Monday).
It’s been a busy week for both sides at the negotiating table.”
Garcia confirmed Friday evening talks were back on with MV Transportation, the company that’s held the city of Santa Clarita’s public transportation contract for the past 15 years, after briefly stalling Tuesday.
The offer received Friday was voted on and approved Sunday evening, Garcia confirmed from the hotel where the vote had taken place.
While the drivers won’t be receiving pensions, Garcia said the raises were significant, and put the drivers’ wages in line with nearby cities like Sylmar and Palmdale.
With the increased earnings, the idea is that drivers will have something additional to put in a 401k, should they choose, she said.
“So it gives us flexibility,” she added. “What I’m feeling right now is that our members’ solidarity and their commitment to their future is what got us this revised offer.”
MV Transportation officials said they’re pleased that everything has been resolved, despite what it referred to as a “difficult period” in an emailed statement Monday.
“We are pleased that, despite a difficult period over the last several weeks, we were ultimately able to arrive at a mutual resolution with our employees, the Teamsters and the city of Santa Clarita,” said Lea Campos, director of communications for MV. “We are excited to return, together, to the very important work of serving the people of Santa Clarita, as we have done successfully since 2008.”
The business touts itself as the nation’s largest passenger-service company, and it has contracts with cities throughout the nation.
City officials said Tuesday they were speaking with MV throughout the strike to figure out ways to create “flexibility” for MV to offer the drivers more money.
The exact figures on the wage increases were not immediately available Monday.
The Santa Clarita City Council is expected to approve an amendment to its current contract with MV Transportation at council members’ next meeting
Carrie Lujan, spokeswoman for the city of Santa Clarita, said the details of the amendment would be publicly available Thursday evening, when the city is planning to release the agenda for council members’ review ahead of their Dec. 12 meeting.
The drivers thanked city residents who supported them and spoke up at Santa Clarita City Council meetings.
“We want to thank the Santa Clarita community for your support and patience during this fight,” said Joseph Norwood, a 19-year employee, in an emailed statement. “Many of you joined us on the picket line morning, noon, and night and your solidarity has meant the world to us.”
The union had been working on negotiations with MV Transportation since October 2022.
When the city of Santa Clarita entered into its current contract with MV for bus service, the goal ultimately was for the company to provide bus services for at least 10 years, according to information in the city’s request for proposals.
The trouble began for drivers as post-pandemic inflation made the contracts, originally negotiated in 2018, no longer in line with both the current cost of living and comparable contracts for other cities’ drivers, according to union officials.
The union entered into negotiation in October 2022, and the city of Santa Clarita became involved in negotiations once those talks stalled, according to City Manager Ken Striplin.
Striplin previously has declined to discuss any specifics about the city’s contract with MV or the city’s involvement in negotiations.