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North County Privatizes Buses

Bus drivers for the North County Transit District can expect to see their wages fall significantly next year after a private company takes over the public bus contract. Labor representatives say this week’s decision to privatize more than 300 jobs could be a sign of things to come.

Jessie Perez, who represents North County bus drivers and maintenance workers, said the transit district budget was so depleted that wages would have had to be cut 30 percent to save any jobs.

He said he believes the private company taking over the public bus service, First Transit, will be able to do better than that.

However, he said it will be difficult for a worker to survive on $12 an hour, the lower salary the private company can offer.

"Believe me, we’ve heard from other labor unions up north and down south of us saying, 'what are you guys doing to keep this from happening?,'" Perez said. "All eyes are on North County Transit right now, because you know what, if this works out, that’s the direction these other transit districts are going to go in.”

Perez said he is working with the district's bus maintenance workers to delay their pay cuts for another year, because their contract with the transit district lasts through 2011.

Audio

Aired 11/20/09

Bus drivers for the North County Transit District can expect to see their wages fall significantly next year, after a private company takes over the public bus contract. Labor representatives say this week’s decision to privatize more than 300 jobs could be a sign of things to come.

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