SAN DIEGO COUNTY, Calif. — The MTS work stoppage continues after employees initially asked for better wages and working conditions on May 17.
A work stoppage by MTS workers is impacting 90% of the company's services in the South Bay, MTS tweeted Friday morning. East County services are operating at 70%.
The newly elected MTS Chair, Stephen Whitburn, and fellow board members held a press conference Friday morning calling for an immediate end to disrupted MTS services.
First Transit operates Minibus and Access service for MTS. Employees are asking for better working conditions and higher pay.
First Transit is MTS’ contracted service provider for Paratransit and a limited number of fixed route services using minibusses.
These employees are not directly employed by MTS. The Union agreement covering their employment is between, Teamsters Local 542 and First Transit. MTS does not have any authority or involvement in the negotiations.
These bus drivers locally are walking off the job in solidarity with union members in El Centro, who started to strike earlier this month.
"We are trying to cause the least amount of damage by sending this message, but if we have to we are ready to strike as well," said Jose Puga of Teamsters Local 683, representing local MTS drivers.
"If this message doesn't get through to Transdev and we get to bargain, then we have our strike coming up next week as well," Puga told CBS 8. "We have our paperwork ready."
"A lot of people rely on the bus," said rider Sherry Yonko, who anticipates chaos, especially for seniors and the disabled, if local drivers do end up going on a full-fledged strike next week.
"That's really big," she told CBS 8. "How are they going to get to where they need to go? Like say, for instance, a doctor's appointment? So that's really serious."
"It would be a nightmare," added MTS customer Linda Saldana, "A headache for everybody."
First Transit gave a statement to CBS 8 which said, "First Transit is actively negotiating with the Teamsters 542 and remains hopeful that we will come to an amicable resolution soon with minimal disruption to the riding public. First Transit remains committed to the collective bargaining process and are currently working through the union to schedule our next bargaining session."
The following minibus routes may be impacted: : Weekdays: 14, 18, 25, 83, 84, 833, 838, 944, 945, 946, 964, 965, 985; Saturdays: 832, 833, 838, 945, 965; Sundays: 832, 833, 838.
Additionally, bus routes out of the South Bay division may be impacted as well: 1, 3, 5, 27, 28, 35, 225, 701, 704, 705, 709, 712, 901, 904, 905, 906, 907, 909, 916, 917, 923, 929, 932, 933, 934, 950/950A, 955, 961, 962, 963, 967, 968, 992. First Transit/Transdev will continue to fill as many trips as possible with qualified providers and drivers while the work stoppage is in effect.
East County Routes impacted: 88, 115, 280, 290, 815, 816, 832, 834, 848, 851, 852, 854, 855, 856, 864, 872, 874, 875, 888, 891, 892, 894, 921, 928, 936
Trolley service will not be impacted by the work stoppage. The vast majority of MTS fixed-route bus service will also not be affected. With approximately 100 routes in the MTS system, 14 routes are impacted.
For MTS Access Service:
MTS is encouraging passengers to make alternate transportation arrangements.
MTS says they will send an email and voice messages with updates to subscription riders as updates on service are available. For additional information, please contact MTS Access at 888-517-9627.
According to MTS, First Transit is actively negotiating with Teamsters 542 and remains hopeful to come to an amicable resolution soon with minimal disruption to the riding public.