Employees of Santa Barbara Metropolitan Transit District (MTD) are going into final negotiations with the public transit agency’s leadership Tuesday, July 12, before potentially going on strike, after raising concerns over what they say have been unfair working conditions during the pandemic.
Teamsters Local 186, the Santa Barbara County union for MTD employees, announced that it had sanctioned a strike against MTD supervisors, citing COVID-related deaths among staff, a lack of hazard pay, and employees being terminated for comorbidities. “Acknowledge our worth or the buses will stop,” read the press release from the union. Union leaders declined to comment on specific demands until negotiations conclude Tuesday.
MTD also gave its management 18 percent raises during the pandemic and is preparing to shift from full-time to part-time drivers, according to Teamsters Local 186 Assistant to Principal Officer Jedediah Johnson. “MTD employees kept the buses moving during the pandemic and showed up to work without complaint because of a sense of duty to the citizens of Santa Barbara,” Johnson wrote.
MTD spokesperson Hillary Blackerby said the agency “continues to bargain in good faith” with the union representatives.