OC bus strike postponed as negotiations resume

Bus service throughout Orange County may face delays Monday as negotiations between the union representing bus maintenance workers and the Orange County Transportation Authority continue. 

Orange County bus drivers threatened to strike earlier this year, but that strike was avoided. OCTA does not have enough maintenance workers who would be able to gas up and provide other bus maintenance if workers strike. Without them, bus service will need to be suspended.

Workers voted to strike beginning Monday last week,but late Sunday night, the sides agreed to go back to the negotiating table, averting a walkout.

OCTA officials said despite the strike being averted, some customers could experience delays on some lines as talks continue.

PREVIOUS COVERAGE: Orange County bus mechanics vote to strike

The union said it's looking for a new deal that would address "key health and welfare issues." Their agreement with OCTA expired on Sept. 30, and covers 150 mechanics, machinists and service workers. Negotiations started on May 25 and there have been 25 bargaining sessions through the summer.

"It's one of the hardest decisions to make," Local 952 Principal Officer Eric Jimenez said on the decision to strike. "We do understand that public is going to be affected by the busses not rolling."

In a statement to FOX 11 Sunday, OCTA Chairman and Orange Mayor Mark Murphy said, "We have offered the union a fair and competitive deal that rewards our maintenance employees for the great work they perform. For the sake of our riders, we hope the union would reconsider its position and come back to the table."

According to OCTA, more than 85% of riders use busses as their primary means of transportation. Riders are urged to plan alternate routes and check OCTA.net for updates on negotiations and service.

City News Service contributed to this report.