YCAT bus operators negotiate deal to avoid strike

YCAT bus operators negotiate deal to avoid strike

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YUMA, AZ - Bus drivers and mechanics have voted to go on strike if their union fails to reach an agreement with first transit by Thursday morning. At issue: a pay raise.

Right now, 32 drivers and mechanics say if they don't get one, they'll hit the picket line.

The YCAT bus drivers union is demanding a 43-cent per hour pay raise, plus better health benefits, and a guaranteed 40 hour work week. Drivers currently make $11 an hour. Bean says the pay raise will help employees pay for the growing cost of health care.

If a deal isn't reached, nearly two-thousand YCAT riders will be left without a ride to school or work. 

"If it becomes a reality, it's going to devastate us," said I.M. Hope, a YCAT rider.

Hope hopes the bus driver's union and First Transit reach an agreement. Hope rides the YCAT bus at least four times a week. It's her only means of transportation. The Arizona Western College student says she doesn't know how she'll get to school if union bus drivers and mechanics go on strike. "I sort of carpooling, I sort contacting YCAT."

YCAT bus drivers and mechanics voted to strike Thursday morning.

Bob Bean, president of the union, says negotiations with First Transit, the privately owned company that runs YCAT, started last June.

Riders like Hope are keeping their fingers crossed an agreement is reached before she too is forced to walk.

"Just the thought of them going on strike… it's something I can't really think of happening. I'm hoping it's just a kind of a threat," said Hope.

Again, if the bus operator's union and First Transit do not come to an agreement by Wednesday, drivers will walk the picket line first thing Thursday morning.

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