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Tucson copes with longest ever recorded union bus strike

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Rebecca Noble and Rebecca Noble and Rebecca Noble | The Daily Wildcat Sun Tran employees on strike with Teamsters Local Union 104 walk the 4400 block of Park Avenue outside of Tucson City Council Ward 5 office on Monday, Aug. 31, 2015. Photo by: Rebecca Noble / The Daily Wildcat

Tucson has been engaged in the city’s longest union bus strike over the past month.

The union is called The Teamsters, and they are currently on strike due to lack of raises in the last three years for past workers, contamination of the buses which have mold in them and recent driver assaults.

Andrew Marshall , the head of the Teamsters Local 104 , has publically released his number and has stated he is willing to talk to anyone in the public who has been affected by this strike. Many irate bus users have taken up that offer, as Marshall said his phone has been ringing constantly during the last month of negotiations.

Kierstyn Tsosie, a UA public administration senior, has to commute two hours to get to school because the route she used before the strike is no longer in service. Like many of the public transit users in Tucson, Tsosie does not have any other means of transportation. She’s had to rely on others to carpool and has even resorted to posting in public UA forums on Facebook for assistance.

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“It’s affecting people across the board,” Tsosie said. “People are losing their jobs right now.”

While Tsosie’s trek to work is only a half hour compared to her two-hour shuttle to school, some are not as fortunate.

“These people are willing to sacrifice other people’s jobs just for their own good … It’s kind of morally wrong for them to do that,” Tsosie said.

Marshall says he and the strikers understand completely how difficult the strike is for those who rely on public transport.

The Teamsters Local 104 and the Sun Tran department head, Kate Riley, have been using federal mediator, Dennis Tell, in the recent days of the strike.

Riley sent a letterhead to their mediator on Aug. 26 with Sun Tran’s most recent offer to the union. According to Marshall, that counteroffer has been the worst offer to date during the strike.

The Teamsters’ most recent online post stated that the most recent proposal “does nothing to even address let alone resolve, the ongoing mold problem.”

Both parties involved are ready and willing to meet, but only the mediator has been used to talk through demands and counter offers. There is no meeting planned between the Teamsters and Sun Tran officials as of now.

The mediated letters are available online for the public to read on the Teamsters Local 104 website despite Riley’s request for that offer to “not be made public to provide [them] with an opportunity to work through options with the Teamsters.”

Marshall argues that the mayor, the city council and the city manager all have a moral obligation to the public. He said they are failing those who elected them and those who depend on them.

“What we’re fighting for is actually going to benefit those people,” Marshall said. “We’re opposed to raising the fares; we’re opposed to reducing the routes. We’re trying to protect the very people who depend on it most, and our employees care about that.”


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