Transdev and Phoenix bus union representatives were back at the negotiating table Saturday in hopes of resolving a bus strike that has idled public transportation in the nation's sixth-largest city.
The union rejected the company's "last and best offer" for a contract, according to Public Transit Department spokesman Lars Jacoby said. An additional 20 routes operated by another company are not affected, and neither is light rail service.
Union officials said sticking points in the negotiations include bereavement time and uniform allowances for the bus drivers, plus a tiered payment system and vacation time.
I'm told there are now just nine issues stopping a deal. The big one - tiered pay. New bus drivers want to make what older drivers do
— ashley thompson (@AshleytABC15) January 9, 2016
Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1433 officials called for a midnight Friday walkout after contract talks stalled.
"They push us out on strike so the union is the bad guy," union secretary Michael Cornelius told reporters. "The operators are out there wondering whether or not they are going to be able to feed their kids. They don't get paid for strikes -- not one penny."
Transdev officials said they offered a fair contract providing a 3 percent annual wage increase retroactive to July, if accepted without a work stoppage. Talks began in April and resumed last month after a six-week hiatus.
"We are very disappointed that our operators are being instructed by ATU 1433 to strike," Transdev said in a news release. "Our focus now will shift in preparing to provide valley riders with the service they have come to expect."
Transdev's contract requires the company to run a reduced level of service, although doing so requires time for the company to get personnel trained and in place, Jacoby said.
In October, the most recent month for which data is available, Transdev served roughly 78,000 passengers on a given weekday. That is out of an average daily ridership of 123,000, Jacoby said.
Transdev told ABC15 that they will continue negotiations with ATU 1433 on Sunday.