A passenger boards an AC Transit bus along Broadway on Oct. 16, 2013, in Oakland.
A passenger boards an AC Transit bus along Broadway on Oct. 16, 2013, in Oakland. (Aric Crabb/Staff)

OAKLAND -- A threatened strike of 1,630 AC Transit bus drivers and mechanics, represented by the same union as BART workers, will have to wait 60 days after an Alameda County judge imposed a cooling-off period for management and workers Wednesday.

Gov. Jerry Brown asked for the cooling-off period in a dispute over worker pay and medical benefits in a system that serves 181,000 riders a day. Judge Evelio Grillo signed off on the order, agreeing with the findings of a panel appointed by Brown.

"Another strike in the Bay Area is the last thing we need," Brown said in a statement Tuesday.

On Wednesday, AC Transit spokesman Clarence Johnson said "we're relieved to have some time to work something out. We're more relieved for our riders because it would be a big strain without bus service."

Johnson said he hopes the two sides use the time constructively to hammer out an agreement rather than wait until just before the end of the cooling-off period to start talking. Unlike the BART negotiations, no federal mediator has been appointed yet.

Johnson said the last offer to bus drivers, represented by the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 192, was a 9.5 percent raise and an increase in medical premiums from zero to a flat rate ranging from $30 to $113 per month in the first year. Union membership turned that offer down.

The average salary of a bus driver is about $54,000 a year.

Contact Doug Oakley at 925-234-1699. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/douglasoakley.



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