Sun Tran, Teamsters reach five-year contract deal

Sun Tran bus (Source: Sun Tran)
Sun Tran bus (Source: Sun Tran)
Published: Jul. 15, 2021 at 4:48 PM MST
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TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - Teamsters 104 won’t reveal how much of a raise their Sun Tran members will get only to say it’s “significant.”

They also got a boost to their retirement savings, full health care and protection from those who cause violence on buses.

And to top it all off, it’s a five-year deal, something Teamsters and Sun Tran have not done before. The contract does call for renewed wage negotiations after the third year.

“I think all of us were quite comfortable in stretching a little bit to a five-year agreement,” said Karla Schumann, the Secretary/Treasurer of Teamsters 104. “Coming out of a year of COVID, with our people out in front of this every day, our people are looking for a little more security.”

And right now is a good time to seek that security. Post-pandemic, workers have a newfound muscle.

“It’s a different world, it’s a different world than it used to be,” Schumann said. “The employer faces a lot of challenges, you know with stagnant wages, you can’t staff up.”

In 2015, Sun Tran workers went on strike for 42 days, disrupting bus traffic and forcing people to find other means of transportation.

In 2019, the Teamsters went on strike against Asarco Copper, a strike that lasted nine months with little gain.

Now businesses all across the country are finding it difficult to hire workers, many of whom don’t want to go back low paying jobs. Workers in many industries are holding our for more.

“I think America is having to pause for a minute to reassess the value of what they (workers) bring to the table, not necessarily during the pandemic but that launched it,” she said. “If you don’t have people come in who are willing to work, you’re kind of high and dry no matter what your business.”

The contract offer was approved overwhelmingly.

“90-plus percent easily,” Schumann said. “I don’t have specific numbers but it was a huge margin.”

The pandemic was a game-changer for both workers and for businesses.

“I think the pandemic was the catalyst to start people taking a hard look at “holy cow”, without workers, we’re screwed,” she said.

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