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AC Transit drivers stage sickouts: How was your commute?

Submitted by on 1, July 21, 2010 – 4:40 am11 Comments

Drivers for AC Transit staged their second day of sickouts Tuesday, and the union that represents the drivers told reporters that there are more big sick days to come. So The Island is asking bus commuters how their ride has been? If you’ve got a story to share, please drop it in the comments section below.


  • Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU), Local 192
    July 21, 2010

    A Message from Claudia Hudson, Chief Negotiator,
    on behalf of AC Transit Bus Drivers and Riders


    Beginning on Sunday, AC Transit changed the entire service structure of our massive system without informing the public, so there has been massive chaos for our workers and the public. AC Transit single-handedly “imposed” a non-negotiated contract on bus drivers and mechanics; they changed work schedules, service routes and responsibilities without any training for our workers. Drivers are driving routes without training, resulting in passengers having to tell them where to turn. One driver with diabetes and poor night vision has been assigned to a night shift. A senior driver who lives in Pittsburgh was reassigned to a Trans-Bay bridge route, which he has never done. A single mom with three kids in Vallejo was reassigned without notice to a 5 a.m. shift but childcare doesn’t begin until 7 a.m. Naturally, she was late to work the first couple of days. Drivers are being forced to be behind the wheel for 10 hours or more, a direct violation of Department of Transportation regulations and a threat to the safety of riders. Many have been assigned to 13 hour shifts.

    Last Friday, an Alameda Superior Court judge ordered our union and AC Transit to select a neutral arbitrator and settle our contract. The District has delayed hiring the arbitrator and instead has chosen to deliberately mess up this great transportation system and deliberately blame it on front line workers. Drivers are working and doing their best under the circumstances. They, not executives at AC Transit, are on the front line and helping the passengers deal with the delays and confusion caused by the District.

    What the AC Transit District is doing is illegal, unfair, and unsafe to the drivers and riders of AC Transit. For some reason the district doesn’t want to resolve this reasonably. Now they’ve hired “an outside public relations spokesperson” named Sam Singer to try to explain all this. Why does the District need to hire “an outside spokesperson”? I’m the chief negotiator for bus drivers and mechanics. I don’t need a spokesperson to say what has to be said:

    Let’s hire the neutral arbitrator. Let’s finish these negotiations and sign a fair contract. Let’s focus on providing the highest level of safety and service to the riders of AC Transit.

    I am available any time at 510-316-0406 for comment and clarification. I can also help arrange interviews with bus drivers, mechanics and dispatchers who can tell you first hand and personal about the chaos the District has created.

    Thank you,

    Claudia Hudson
    President and Chief Negotiator,
    Amalgamated Transit Union Local 192
    Oakland, California

  • Chris says:

    I’m an occasional rider on the 51A. Waited at 19th/Broadway downtown Oakland at 5:40pm on Monday for that bus headed to Alameda. Another passenger volunteered they’d already been waiting 25 minutes, bus came about 5:50 (ten minutes after scheduled) and was MUCH fuller than usual. Standing room only even before we hit 12th street. Whatever the reason, service Monday was certainly messier than usual.

  • Tony Daysog says:

    Funny you should ask . . . here’s what I posted on my westalameda.com site on Monday night:

    I am sitting here in the well-lit
    concourse of the 12th Street BART
    Station, making use of the nextbus
    links I loaded on this site. It’s 9:45 pm.
    Do I sit here for the next 20 minutes
    before going upstairs for either the
    51A or 20?

    Or should I hop back on BART for
    Fruitvale, where I might also catch
    these buses en route to Alameda via
    Park Street? Real-time public transit
    planning courtesy of AC’s gps-based
    nextbus.com! Check it out!

    by Tony Daysog

    Addendum: It’s 10:20 pm and I’m in
    Marriot lobby. The 51A that was
    supposed to arrive at 14th and
    Broadway at 10:05 never arrived. I
    should’ve known something was up,
    because while this bus registered on
    the text version of nextbus, it was
    nowhere on the real-time map.

    But in a way, I am still at fault because,
    per the system, I knew that had I
    waited at 11th and Broadway instead, I
    could’ve caught the 20, as well as wait
    for a 31 or 51A. Note to self: wait at
    11th and Broadway for now on.


  • renee says:

    I am a rider on Line P (Transbay). On Monday, there was no 4:00 or 4:30 bus home; I had to take a 5:00 bus, which was packed. Management at the Transbay terminal stated that they did not know what was going on or when the next bus might arrive. They could not answer any questions from anyone standing in line. On Tuesday, there was no afternoon/evening transbay service on Line P whatsoever – a handwritten sign stated that there would be no service and no alternate drivers and to find another bus to get home. So I did, though the other bus did not drop me off anywhere near where I needed to be so I got home 45 minutes late. On both Monday and Tuesday, I had to pay late fees at the child care center because I could not make it there in time, thanks to this AC Transit. I understand the drivers are pissed and I get that but AC Transit needs to stop downplaying the situation. Numerous bus lines have been affected (O and CB are two examples) and thousands of commuters have been stranded due to lack of service. AC Transit needs to inform commuters IN THE MORNING as to whether or not they can expect a ride home in the afternoon.

  • caligirl says:

    This is ridiculous! Everyone- ATU, AFSCME, the Public- knew one month ago that this contract would be imposed. To claim ignorance is insulting and galling. AC Transit has been very fastidious about updating the website every step of the way and following collective bargaining agreements by informing Labor of its intentions.

    Passengers have endured service cuts and rate increases (with more to come), two rounds of service and administrative layoffs have occurred, and ATU is crying about a $10 medical co-pay and not getting paid 100% salary at retirement.

    The Governor took ALL of the State Transit money for five years; do you understand THAT, Claudia?

    Over 80% of the operating budget of AC Transit came from that money. This is a really big hole, and it won’t be filled by just letting other employees get laid off and the passengers get the short end of the stick. ATU’s salary and benefits are the bulk of the District’s operating costs. ATU has to pony up, like everyone else. It would be nice if for once you could manage to do it with some maturity, grace and style.

    You are supposed to serve the Public, not the other way around. As a member of that Public, I am ashamed to call you Public Servants.

  • Christine Zook says:

    Caligirl has no idea what is happening at the negotiating table.
    For all she knows, ATU DID come up with savings for the District.
    Who does she think has paid (through concessions in their contract) for all of the “holes” in the budget up until now?
    What you really should be asking yourself is, why the District wants ATU to strike?
    Ken Schiedig said during the first court hearing in this matter that, the District would save more money if ATU would just strike.
    A strike would hurt passengers more than anyone else. The District puts on a “public service” face but could care less about the riding public.
    I bet “Caligirl” wouldn’t make her comments to Claudia’s face! LOL

  • Daily AC Transit Rider says:


    Oh, please. My bus has never failed to show up for more than an hour on two days in one week. And drivers have mentioned how disappointed they are in fellow workers who are calling in sick and creating hardship for working passengers, seniors, kids, etc.

    As a union spokesperson, please know that in an ordinarily union-friendly area, the sickout is squandering all public sympathy for the union. If AC Transit declares bankruptcy, you will be out of a job and may have a lot of time to ruminate on how, in this economy, this was not the time to play victim and play so greedy.

  • Sick of AC Transit says:

    Never mind Christine Zook, she is just shilling for the union. She’s a member of the out of control union: . The really annoying thing is that the comment section in many articles about the sickout is populated with people like her. Part of me is glad that they’re so tone deaf and has no public relations skills. That way voters will eventually catch on and peel back those crazy pensions.

  • Mary says:

    You have to work 40 years to get 100%. There are very few that collect that amount. What they don’t tell you is a lot of them die before they every collect.

  • SP says:

    My commute for last 2 weeks has been severely disrupted by AC transit no-shows. I finally resorted to riding my bike and BART. Many AC transit riders do not have these means or alternative options. The lack of reliable AC transit buses makes me wary of returning to ride buses. I feel incensed that many AC transit drivers are receiving sick pay during the work disruption while we riders are routinely standing on the curbs for 30+ minutes, desperately waiting for the next bus, unable to get to work or appointments on time.
    I realize that many AC Transit drivers are hardworking people in a tough spot with the negotiations, but this work disruption is not winning public sympathy and it hits riders hard. Riders are paying for service that we are not receiving. The reality is there is not enough money to pay for the level of job benefits ATU feels its members are entitled to.
    So far, I haven’t read of any productive contract negotiation outcomes for AC Transit drivers/ATU resulting from this work disruption. The sad reality is that riders suffer most from this work disruption.
    ATU: Please consider the riders. Please change strategies and end the sick out/work disruption.

  • peeohedcommuter says:

    I live in the Dimond District of Oakland and work in Richmond. I do not drive. My “normal” commute to work is 2 hours. Before 7 a.m. I take a #57 to MacArthur BART, take the Richmond train to El Cerrito del Norte, then the #72 to Hilltop Mall. With the “sick out,” I have been late for work several times and have resorted to $20 cab rides to work from the El Cerrito station. Same thing on the trip home. I’ve taken cabs from Fruitvale BART or MacArthur BART.

    The sick out is hurting me and my pocketbook. I HAVE to be at work on time. It’s not negotiable. 2 hours one way on a “regular” commute is bad enough, but not knowing when or even IF a bus will come makes my stress level soar. I have sympathy for the drivers-but it seems that AC Transit has no sympathy for riders. Most bus travelers do not have the option of jumping in their cars if the bus is late.

    I grew up on the East coast and always took buses. I could get almost anywhere FAST. Not here.


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