For many a car is a normal form of transportation and for many Tucsonans, a bike is equally important – come rain or shine…
But for even more Tucson residents, the bus is their sole means of transportation all week long and not just for work – for everything including errands, groceries, picking up their children, seeing loved ones and just plain getting around town.
So when members of Teamsters Local 104 went on strike, Sun Tran has been running some routes from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m.
In other words, people who work nights and weekends can’t get to work or must find an alternative route. For many weeks, workers were left without transportation.
One resident says he has to work in a restaurant all weekend, but he will not be able to take his usual bus.
“These people make more money than I do, and I’m a trained chef,” said the chef. “I have an associate’s degree as a trained chef. They make more money than I make. And they’re complaining about it?”
Teamsters have a picket line outside the Ronstadt Transit Center and it looks like they are up for making it a few month long protest if they have to.
One source says that morale is still high, because these bus drivers understand the cause. In fact, the source stresses that it’s not about the money but rather about the safety of the drivers, the coach operators and the mechanics.
In turn, protesters argue it is for the safety of the public.
However, many Tucsonans are in vehement disagreement including Sun Tran General Manager Kate Riley.
She claims that “the safety and health issues due to assaults on drivers and mold in our maintenance shop have all been addressed by Sun Tran management,” she stated in a news release, “not only before negotiations started, but at the negotiating table.”
Although union members stated that money was not their main motivation, most employees were not offered any raises in their 3-year offer. Only new drivers making $13.30 per hour were offered a 50-cent raise.
The average bus driver makes $16.73 per hour with all benefits paid, according to Sun Tran.
Limited bus service will continue.