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Gov. Brown Seeks 60-Day Cooling-Off Period In AC Transit Dispute

OAKLAND (CBS SF) -- Gov. Jerry Brown said Tuesday that he will seek a 60-day cooling-off period in the labor dispute between AC Transit and its workers, which nearly led to a strike last week.

Brown issued his request a day after a three-member panel he appointed held a hearing on the matter at the state building in Oakland. His request will now go before Judge Evelio Grillo at a hearing Wednesday morning.

Members of Amalgamated Transit Union Local 192, which represents about 1,800 bus drivers, mechanics, dispatchers, clerical and other workers, were set to strike last Thursday, but late Wednesday afternoon Brown averted a walkout by calling for an investigation to consider management's request for a 60-day cooling-off period.

The cooling-off period was requested by AC Transit's management.

On two previous occasions, the bus agency's management and union leaders have reached tentative agreements on new contracts, but both were rejected by the union's members. The most recent vote was held on Oct. 1.

Gov. Brown Seeks 60-Day Cooling-Off Period In AC Transit Dispute

According to AC Transit management, the bus agency is offering employees a 9.5 percent pay hike over three years.

However, union leaders say employees believe that proposed increase will be offset by management's request that they pay more for their health care and retirement benefits.

Margot Rosenberg, an attorney for ATU Local 192, told the panel appointed by Brown that another important issue for employees is having enough time for meal and bathroom breaks.

ATU Local 192 President Yvonne Williams said employees suffer from a variety of health issues related to their working conditions, such as neck problems, heart disease and diabetes.

AC Transit General Manager David Armijo said management is asking employees to pay more for their health care and retirement costs because those expenses are increasing rapidly.

AC Transit logs about 200,000 daily bus rides in its service areas in Alameda and Contra Costa counties.

(Copyright 2013 by CBS San Francisco and Bay City News Service. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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