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Saturday, February 16 , 2019, 2:34 am | Fair 50º


No Service Disruptions Expected as MTD, Union Continue Negotiations

Bus drivers won't strike for now with mediation scheduled to resume next week

Negotiations between the Santa Barbara Metropolitan Transit District and a bargaining unit representing bus drivers will continue next week, but in the meantime, buses will continue to run as normal.

Negotiations continued Tuesday, and an additional mediation session has been scheduled for the week of March 7.

“There will be no service disruptions at this time,” according to an MTD new release.

The agency issued a statement last month that said while the benefit package for active employees is unchanged, the retirement age of employees must be raised as a cost-saving measure. It is asking that the full retirement health benefits begin at age 65, instead of 62 as is currently required.

“Asking employees to wait for this retirement benefit is very reasonable given the financial condition of the district and the current state of the economy,” the statement read, and that it has successfully completed negotiations with supervisors of the same union for the same offer.

Teamsters Local 186 represents more than 150 drivers, service workers and supervisors for the Santa Barbara MTD, and Bill Elder is CEO of the group.

Negotiations have been going on for about a year, he told Noozhawk in January, adding that there were about 100 proposals, from both sides, that now have been whittled down. Elder said workers must work 20 years before they can qualify for the benefit, and said the group is also taking issue with the amount of out-of-pocket health costs the members are required to pay.

“We’re going into the negotiations with an open mind,” he told Noozhawk. “We’re hopeful we can reach a resolution, but at this point we haven’t heard a plan that will work for our members.”

For updates on service, MTD urges bus riders to monitor its Web site and Facebook and Twitter pages.

Noozhawk staff writer Lara Cooper can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk or @NoozhawkNews.

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