TEMPE, AZ - A strike by transit bus drivers affecting tens of thousands of riders in Phoenix's eastern suburbs will resume for a third day, with no end in sight.
The strike began Thursday, shutting down 40 routes in Chandler, Gilbert, Mesa and Tempe and express routes from those cities to Scottsdale and Phoenix. The affected routes serve some 57,000 riders daily.
Negotiators for the Amalgamated Transit Union and operator First Transit were in meetings all day Friday.
Around 8:30 p.m. Friday night, First Transit issued the following statement:
"First Transit continued negotiations today with the ATU to settle the remaining open issues and end the strike that has so adversely affected the Phoenix community. Negotiations began at 9 a.m. and commenced in good faith with both parties making significant progress toward an agreement under the mediation of Chief Justice McGregor.
However, at 6:30 p.m., the Union informed First Transit that they would only agree to a one-year contract and ended negotiations. All of the discussions thus far have hinged upon a three-year contract, which would guarantee the riding public long-term stability.
Given the history of this Union – the strike which occurred 18 months ago and the strike that is presently underway – we sincerely believe that it would be against the community's best interest to face a potential strike scenario every 12 months.
We apologize to the Phoenix community for the disruption to service that we have been diligently working to avoid. We stand ready and willing to recommence negotiations toward a resolution and will remain in constant contact with Chief Justice McGregor."
Negotiations are set to resume Saturday, August 3.
The East Valley routes impacted are: FLASH, MERCURY, VENUS, EARTH, MARS, JUPITER, BUZZ, LINK-Main St., LINK-Arizona Ave., 30, 40, 45, 48, 56, 61, 62, 65, 66, 72, 77, 81, 96, 104, 108, 112, 120, 128, 136, 156, 184, 511, 514, 520, 521, 522, 531, 533, 535, 541 and 542.
There are routes traveling into Phoenix (30, 45, 48, 56, 61, 72, 77, 514, 520, 521, 522, 531, 533, 535, 541, 542) and Scottsdale (EARTH, 72, 81, 511, 514) that will also be affected.