FRESNO, Calif. (KGPE/KSEE) – Bus drivers will stay on the job in Fresno after the city and the union reached a tentative deal.
The offer from the city includes a 15% to 20% raise in salary over the next three years.
Drivers’ overtime pay would also remain the same. It would be based hourly instead of daily, which was the centerpiece of these negotiations.
Union President Luis Montoya-Alcazar called the agreement made on Monday a victory.
“I’m happy and glad that we came to an agreement,” he said.
Montoya represents every bus driver in the union. 85% of bus drivers agreed with these terms reached with the City of Fresno.
“We work long days, so because of those long days, we deserve that overtime language. And for the city of the department to try and take that away from us, that is a big no-no,” said Montoya-Alcazar.
“It was an 11th hour Hail Mary type negotiation,” said Mayor Jerry Dyer.
Mayor Dyer says negotiations for the contract went non-stop for several hours after the union threatened to strike Monday if a deal was not reached.
“We were already making contingency plans to charter buses, taxi services, no one really wants to do anything to interrupt the services for our people who are in need of public transportation,” said Dyer on what the city planned to do if the strike was not averted.
“If you look around there’s a lot of customers here or passengers that need this transportation,” said Montaya-Alcazar, pointing to the people at Station L in Downtown Fresno.
Passengers like Annie Benjamin rely heavily on FAX and the public transportation within the city.
“It’s sad you know, people are suffering, and people need hope now, so hopefully they come to a peaceful solution,” she said.
“My constituents, 75,000 people I represent, a good chunk of those rely on the bus. The last thing I want as Vice-President of this council is for a strike of our bus drivers, especially in the hot months,” said Tyler Maxwell of the Fresno City Council.
The agreement now goes to the city council where it could be approved in closed session as early as Tuesday.
“If the council doesn’t approve it, then guess what, we’ll be back in strike mode,” said Montoya-Alcazar. “But it’s the last thing we want to do.”
When Mayor Dyer took office 14 months ago, there were 11 open labor contracts.
This contract, if agreed upon, would be the 11th and final one to be filled.