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Saturday, July 14, 2007

OC Teamsters transit strike hits poorest residents

On the heels of a fare increase for the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transit Authority comes a strike by coach operators for the neighboring Orange County Transportation Authority (OCTA). The drivers are represented by Teamsters Local 952. Orange County has some of the highest prices in the nation for housing, gasoline, insurance, food and other commodities. The city of Santa Ana has been hardest hit by the strike. Residents of Santa Ana are the poorest of the poor in Orange County. They depend on buses for all their transportation needs. Without bus service, they have been left stranded.

The OCTA is staffing only a minimal number of bus lines in Santa Ana, including the popular line 43, which runs from Fullerton down Harbor Boulevard to Costa Mesa. Supervisors are doing the driving from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday through Friday.

The bus mechanics belong to the same union as the drivers, but are working under a separate labor agreement. The union has sent letters to all the mechanics letting them know that it is their right not to cross the sanctioned picket lines of the drivers. So far, the strike is solid.

Assemblyman Jose Solorio, representing the 69th District, which runs through the heart of Orange County, has issued a statement calling on the OCTA board of directors to instruct their negotiators to bargain fairly with the drivers and their union.