Transit- Apparent sickout has transit officials scrambling for drivers-

Posted: August 16, 2013 in Uncategorized

Aug. 15, 2013

STOCKTON – Transportation officials reported that Stockton buses ran on their regular schedules for almost all of Wednesday, despite a third of drivers calling in sick.

It was the second day of an apparent sickout in the San Joaquin Regional Transit District, which operates several bus services in Stockton and San Joaquin County. The absences have affected Stockton Metro routes in the city.

Employees of the district and management are in a dispute over how the latest work assignments have been meted out.

On Tuesday, RTD ran a reduced schedule as a larger-than-usual number of drivers were absent from work. At the same time, the district added more Metro Hopper buses, which are driven by employees of an outside company that contracts with the district.

About the same number of drivers did not report to work Wednesday. One route had reduced services in the morning, but normal service soon resumed systemwide, according to RTD.

The district filled in the gap using supervisors and the employees who did report for work, RTD officials said. General Manager and CEO Donna DeMartino said she appreciated the efforts that allowed RTD to provide service to 95 percent of RTD customers, despite the reduced work force.

Still, riders were wary.

On a usual day, Hermanjildo Montes, 24, could leave home at 11 to get from his Weston Ranch home to work in central Stockton on time.

“Today, I had to leave at 9 just to be sure,” he said. “It’s a two-hour inconvenience.” Even so, Montes said he supports the drivers.

Earlier this month, management handed out work assignments after workers did not sign up for new assignments. Management says the sickout is apparently because drivers want more opportunities for overtime. Amalgamated Transit Union Local 276, which represents the workers, disputes that.

Union officials have said drivers are upset because RTD is violating the contract and call it the latest in a long line of disputes that have been mounting. They also have criticized the district for continuing cuts in service.

But the union told the represented workers they should be showing up for work, according to union officials.

On Wednesday, the RTD board of directors met in closed session to discuss what to do next.

The workers have other routes short of walking out to address grievances, Chairman Gary Giovanetti said.

“It’s unfortunate that our customers have to bear the brunt,” he said.

via Apparent sickout has transit officials scrambling for drivers |

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