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Update: YCAT bus drivers could go on strike after a new contract deal was not agreed upon

Yuma County Area Transit bus drivers are hoping to settle their contract negotiation to match the rest of Arizona's pay - 13 On Your Side's Vanessa Gongora reports

UPDATE (10/13/22): There are about 1,500 bus trips a day in Yuma County, but that soon may come to a halt as YCAT workers could be going on strike.

One Yuma resident, Ignacio Franco, who uses the bus every day says he won't be affected as much because he's used to the exercise but it will hurt other locals.

"People would be affected, people that work, people that study. To me, I'm not affected because of the lack of buses, but people that go to college that take the bus. Those could be affected too," explains Franco.

Bean says what the YCAT employees are asking for is really not a lot.

"They're not even looking for the exact same. They just want to be bumped up just getting closer to what the Arizona drivers are making," says Bean.

According to Bean, in his 18 years, this is the first time he's seen 100% of the employees vote for a strike authorization.

"I just got a call from my International Vice President Jim Lindsey asking what the top rate was here for the Yuma drivers," continues Bean. "And once I gave it to him he informed me that he's going to the International President in Washinton D.C. and the General Executive Board to get strike sanction for Yuma here."

YCAT bus drivers also say they won't come back until their Safety and Training Manager, Brandy Brookins, is removed from her position.

"To be a Safety Training Manager you have to have a commercial driver's license and be able to drive a bus and teach people how to drive a bus," explains Bean. "For the last two and half years she's been in that position without a CDL. She can't train, she's supposedly a safety manager but without a CDL you don't know what's safe and what's not safe on a bus cause you can't take a bus out and learn anything."

He says some employees are even talking about moving to Phoenix where they can make a decent living.

Bean says no word on when they would go on strike, as they're waiting for the company to reach out to them to see if negotiations will continue.

YUMA, Ariz. (KYMA, KECY) - Yuma County Area Transit (YCAT) bus drivers could go on strike since 100% of them voted against the new three-year contract offer Wednesday night.

The drivers are currently under a contract extension from the expired contract.

Amalgamated Transit Union #1433 President Bob Bean, who represents the 32 YCAT employees says they're looking to increase wages by at least 30%.

Bean says Phoenix drivers make more than $5 an hour compared to Yuma drivers.

The excuse given is because of the cost of living, but Bean says that is not the case at all.

"What I was told this time, It's Yuma, the cost of living in Yuma is less than anywhere else. Well, the cost of living in Yuma is identical to Phoenix if not a little more when it comes to restaurants," Bean says. "So these operators need to make a living wage just like everybody else needs to make a living wage and right now they're not."

Bean says they want YCAT's bus drivers to be treated fairly.

"We're fighting to get closer to parody with the rest of Arizona and we just settled a contract in Tucson with a street car with exactly the same company, which is RATP DEV out of Texas," explains Bean. "Same company, we just settled a great contract there. We met three times and it was a done deal. We've been going at this one since May and with what they've thrown on the table, to me it's disgusting."

There are 28 drivers, three mechanics and one dispatcher who voted against the contract provided by RATP DEV.

According to Bean, he informed RATP DEV of the results and says the ball is in their court now and a strike is possible.

Article Topic Follows: Yuma County

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Vanessa Gongora

Vanessa Gongora joined the KYMA team in 2022 and is the anchor/producer for CBS at 4 p.m.

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