Two months of negotiations and nothing to show for it.
Now, if you take a Golden Empire Transit bus, your commute could be in jeopardy.
Golden Empire Transit (GET) and the union that represents its bus drivers and mechanics can’t reach a deal on a new contract. Now, workers are considering going on strike.
According to a representative from the workers’ union, Teamsters Local 517, striking is an option currently being considered after workers rejected the latest contract proposal provided by GET on Saturday.
There are 107 GET buses in operation in Bakersfield, according to the company’s website.
It’s unclear how many routes would be affected if there is a work stoppage.
A GET spokesperson says the company has yet to receive a notice from the union about an upcoming strike, as is required by law. She says GET is ready to get back to the table to negotiate further.
“GET management is bargaining in good faith, and I think that we're certainly willing to be at the table and to continue discussions,” said GET spokesperson Gina Hayden.
But an e-mail sent to the 17 Newsroom from a GET worker, who asked to remain anonymous, paints a much darker picture.
The e-mail said “GET drivers are ready to strike” and “time will now tell whether or not our buses will run in the near future.”
News of a possible driver and mechanic strike had several GET passengers worried they might be out of a ride soon.
“I wouldn't be able to find a ride from school to work. I would have to be asking people for rides, and I don't have the gas money and everything,” said Eduardo Saldana.
“I would have to walk to doctor's appointments. I mean it's just awful,” said Kristy Bailey. “A lot of people would be mad.”
“It's a shame to go on strike, you know” said James Reeves. “Who would run the buses? Who would get people to where their destinations need to be?”
Neither the union representative nor a GET spokesperson would reveal what exactly the two sides have disagreed upon in recent contract negotiations.
According to GET’s website, the company’s buses run 20 different routes in Bakersfield. Its buses travel a combined 3.6 million miles every year.