Gold Coast Transit Announces Possible Bus Operators Strike
January 29, 2009
OXNARD, CA. --- Gold Coast Transit (GCT), which provides local bus service to Oxnard, Ventura, Port Hueneme, Ojai and the unincorporated areas of Western Ventura County, is alerting all passengers of the potential of a strike by bus operators that could cause
GCT bus service to be cancelled indefinitely.
GCT’s Bus Operators Unit, represented by SEIU Local 721, rejected a contract offer on January 22, 2009 that included a wage increase of 10% over two-years and a medical benefit contribution increase totaling almost 12% over two years. On January 27, 2009 SEIU held a strike planning meeting. GCT bus operators are now boycotting overtime work.
GCT offered a similar contract to its Mechanics Unit and Administrative Support Unit in December, and those employees voted to accept the contract.
GCT bus drivers are currently paid between $14 and $20 per hour based on seniority. Drivers also receive medical, dental, vision and life insurance coverage; paid vacation and sick leave, overtime pay, and a pension plan similar to that provided to state employees.
“This is a generous pay and benefits offer, especially in light of the economic challenges currently facing the local and state governments that fund GCT,” said Deborah Linehan, GCT’s general manager.
Linehan said that she and GCT’s governing board of local elected officials were very concerned that even a brief strike would strand many local residents who take about 12,000 trips on GCT buses each weekday. “Most of our riders depend on GCT buses to get to work, school, medical care and shopping. Our passengers often have no alternative form of transportation, which makes a strike even more devastating as people strive to survive in this tough economy,” Linehan said.
Aside from the wage issue, the primary point of contention is the use of security cameras aboard the bus. “This technology is critical for the safety and security of our passengers as well as providing excellent evidence for accidents and reported incidents of misconduct,” stated Andrew Mikkelson, director of transit operations. At issue is the use of security system video, audio and GPS data as corroborating evidence for rule violations, including reports of dangerous driving, discourtesy to passengers and buses running off route or ahead of schedule.
GCT management has implemented an internal policy defining and limiting how and when security camera evidence may be used, however the bus operators Union is taking the position that security camera evidence, when available, should not be used to hold bus operators accountable for their actions.
GCT urges bus riders concerned about a possible strike to consult local newspapers, radio and television stations and GCT’s website: goldcoasttransit.org. Riders may also call the GCT Customer Service Center at 805-487-4222 or 805-643-3158. GCT buses operate on Routes: 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10,11,12,15,16,30X,31X,32X and 38X.
Several other transit services in western Ventura County would continue to operate normally in the event of a GCT bus operators’ strike. These include:
• ACCESS Paratransit service for seniors and people with disabilities
• VISTA intercity bus service operated under the management of the Ventura County Transportation Commission
• Harbor/Beaches Dial-A-Ride operated under the management of the City of Oxnard