Both sides in the Orange County bus strike have agreed to go back to the bargaining table, starting tomorrow.
This will be the first time OCTA and the Union will sit down since the mechanics walked off the job on Wednesday, but it is unclear if the strike will be called off when those talks begin on Saturday at 11 a.m.
Miguel Madrigal, a mechanic, calls this a last resort and says he doesn’t want to be on a picket line. It’s the first time in his 36 year career he’s ever gone on strike.
“It’s never easy, and it doesn’t help anybody but we have to express our point and hopefully be heard,” expressed Madrigal. He is one of about 150 mechanics and service workers who walked off the job on Wednesday afternoon.
With no one to clean, fuel and maintain the busses, about 500 coaches are sitting idle.
Right next door there’s another sign of a labor issue. Matthew Austin, the owner of a moving company, says his forklifts are not being used because his workers, who use the bus, couldn’t get to work today.
“They’re having problems getting to work because a lot rely on transportation to get here,” said Austin. He also said they were down about five workers on Friday.
There is a bus stop right outside the door of his other company, an artificial grass business, and he sees people sitting, waiting and wondering. “Every day there’s been 4 to 5 people sitting on the bus not knowing, even though strikers there,” he said. “It’s just amazing.”
Back at the maintenance yard, the striking workers are wondering too. They contend that the offer from OCTA wouldn’t amount to a raise after they pay for increased medical premiums.
“It gets more and more expensive every day, every year and so the increase they’re offering us would barely cover that, if that,” said Madrigal.
In the meantime, the transportation authority says the union workers could save money if they used their healthcare program.
“We believe strongly in our health care system and we would welcome them to come over as well,” said Eric Carpenter, a OCTA spokesperson.
OCTA was told this strike would only last 96 hours and that would put the deadline at 4 p.m. on Sunday. If that happens, the busses could be cleaned and fueled and back on the road by Monday morning.