SAN DIEGO — An ongoing strike against the MTS-contracted company, Transdev, entered its 15th day on Monday, shutting down hundreds of bus routes all over the South Bay.
Teamsters Local 683 and 542, the unions representing the striking bus drivers, have been marching for better working conditions, bathroom and lunch breaks, and parity pay with other Transdev unions. However, contract negotiations have hit an impasse.
On Sunday night, Teamsters members voted down the company’s “last best and final offer,” extending the strike that begun on May 16, when drivers walked away from their buses at the end of the shift and left management to park the buses inside the MTS bus yard in Chula Vista.
“They know that this company continues to play games,” one striking bus driver said. “The morale is high and we’re going to keep marching until we get something that is fair.”
MTS has been careful not to take a side in the negotiations, but the extension’s impact on riders who depend on buses for their transportation has frustrated the local transit agency.
Last week, MTS Board of Directors chair and San Diego City Councilmember Stephen Whitburn called on the agency to end the strike, saying that the agency is “deeply concerned about the failure” of Transdev to reach an agreement so transportation services can resume.
Out of the 90 buses that normally roll out of one impacted Kearny Mesa bus yards, union members say only about four are hitting their scheduled routes.
Riders in Chula Vista say that the strike’s service disruption is creating a cascading ripple of transit problems, with people having to walk miles to wait for a bus that may never come.
“The buses run on iffy schedules,” one bus rider named Shai told FOX 5. “You got to wait for 30 minutes just for the buses to come and you’re like ‘I’ve got an appointment I’ve got to be at in 5 minutes.”
Elderly folks are missing medical appointments, while students are getting short changed by the lack of dependability.
“I need to go to college and now I always go late, because the bus is just not here,” a student in the South Bay area named Yuliana said.
The MTS Board of Directors has scheduled a special meeting Thursday to discuss the strike and next steps for resolving the issue between the unions and the third-party employer.