Jul 27, 2014 1:38 AM by Sam Salzwedel
TUCSON - SunTran union members are closer to going on strike if contract negotiations do not go well.
Saturday, 99 percent of Teamsters Local 104 members voted yes in a strike authorization vote, according to the Principal Executive Officer, Andrew Marshall. Marshall is also the chief negotiator.
He said the vote was a formality that gives the union power to authorize a strike if necessary. The union's current deal with SunTran expires at 11:59 p.m. August 6.
Union members have not had a pay raise in years. Members want to make comparable salaries to City of Tucson employees who work similar jobs. City employees in comparable positions make an extra $2 per hour, according to Marshall.
"The issue is funding," he said. "You either have to raise fares or cut service. Neither of which we're in favor of. But you have to pay for the service somehow, and that comes out of the city's budget."
The union does not represent SunLink streetcar employees.
"There's been a lot of money dumped into the modern streetcar." Marshall said. "And we think that money could have been better spent with the buses that ran those same routes."
The union hopes to receive a deal to vote on by August 2.
The union has more than 500 members, including drivers, mechanics, fare box workers and everybody else who works for SunTran. For the most experienced employees, drivers make about $18 per hour, and mechanics make about $22 per hour, according to Marshall.