GET bus driver strike imminent

Published 07/14 2014 05:19PM

Updated 07/14 2014 05:51PM

BAKERSFIELD, CA -- A strike is imminent for GET bus drivers as a midnight deadline looms for employees. GET officials said last-minute negotiations with union and GET officials broke down late Sunday night. GET said the two sides met all day Friday and Sunday from 2 p.m. to 11 p.m. when talks broke down.

"I don't blame the drivers and I don't blame the company it's just something that has to be done," said Jim Saunders, a regular GET bus rider. GET has been negotiating with the union since January and it appears they are no closer to a deal.

Gina Hayden, GET Spokesperson says, "GET officials and union officials are far apart at this point in time." Teamsters Local 517, which represents the 250 union drivers and mechanics, is asking for a raise of 4 percent each year of the three year agreement. The union said this would bring wages more in line with what drivers earn in comparable sized cities. But GET said it cannot afford those demands.

"The majority of our expenses are paid through state and federal taxes and as you know the state and federal government are having problems so that makes it very difficult for us," said Hayden. While the union would speak on camera it said in a statement that drivers "are not making outrageous demands." But longtime rider Vicki Gates the loss of service is outrageous. "I think the strike is wrong," said Vicki Gates, a longtime GET bus rider.

GET said the last time drivers went on strike was 1980. It lasted from August to October. GET administrators will be offering rides to 60 medically fragile passengers and maybe more rides if any union drivers come to work.

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