In an effort to end a citywide bus strike now in its fifth day, Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton stepped in during negotiations Wednesday between Veolia Transportation, the company operating Valley transit, and Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1433, the bus drivers’ union.
If conditions of a “handshake,” or unofficial, agreement between Veolia and ATU are met, Phoenix bus operations could be back on schedule by Friday morning, Stanton said in a news release.
Veolia and ATU have not come to an agreement for Tempe’s bus operations because the cities function separate contracts, said Valerie Michaels, director of corporate communications for Veolia.
Negotiations for Tempe’s operations took place after Stanton announced the Phoenix agreement, but no decision has been made.
“We’re hopeful for Tempe like Phoenix,” Michaels said. “But we can’t base one (agreement) after the other.”
Since the strike began on Saturday, Tempe’s buses have been operating at 60 percent of weekday service levels, according to a City of Tempe news release.
Tempe’s Interim Deputy Public Works Director Greg Jordan said the city has felt the frustrations of students and residents.
He said since the strike, Valley Metro phone lines have been backed up with frustrated callers.
Jordan said negotiations seem to be coming to a close for Tempe as well.
“If they’re making an agreement on the Phoenix side, that bodes well for the Tempe side,” Jordan said.
Stanton rescheduled next week’s Phoenix City Council meeting for Thursday at 9:30 a.m. to give union members the chance to vote on the measures and officially sign an agreement.
Sarah Muench, communications director for the mayor’s office, said the mayor doesn’t usually get involved in negotiations like these.
Stanton’s personal interest in the transit system started when his father rode the bus everyday to provide for his family, Muench said.
“He has been doing everything he can to move this along,” she said. “He understands what working families have to go through to get to work on time.”
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