SANTA ANA, Calif. (KABC) -- Orange County Transportation Authority officials announced the union representing maintenance employees, who have been on strike for the past several days, has agreed to meet to continue negotiations.
OCTA said the meetings have been scheduled for Saturday, Nov. 5, Sunday, Nov. 6, and Monday, Nov. 7.
It is unclear whether the union will choose to call off the strike.
The union called the walkout Wednesday -- setting up picket lines at the agency's Santa Ana and Garden Grove yards -- and Thursday was the first day that bus commuters were left to look for alternate means of getting to and from work, doctor visits and other appointments.
OCTA had alerted commuters to check the agency's website for any updates -- but despite the warnings, people unaware of the disruption, were still seen Thursday morning at various bus stops, waiting for buses that weren't coming.
Orange County Board Chairman Doug Chaffee, who also serves on the OCTA board, said Thursday that it doesn't appear Gov. Gavin Newsom will step in anytime soon.
The discussions have been mainly about resolving contract negotiations, including salaries and benefits.
OCTA claims it can offer health care benefits for a lot less money than Teamster Local 952.
The Teamsters Labor Alliance Trust Fund costs $350 monthly for every plan, but the bus drivers, who are also represented by the same union, receive health care through the transportation agency and they pay $38.05 for single coverage, $108.18 for two-party coverage and $220.52 for family coverage.
OCTA claims that annual savings for each plan would be $3,743.40, $2,901.84 and $1,553.82, respectively.
The union's 150 machinists, mechanics and service technicians provide a variety of services from gassing up buses to making repairs.
A strike that was previously planned for Oct. 17 was called off when Newsom asked both sides to continue negotiations but the talks fizzled this week when Teamsters Local 952 claimed OCTA negotiators walked away from the bargaining table on Monday.
According to OCTA, the agency offered a 14.25% salary increase over three years, which includes an immediate 5% pay hike, another 4.75% increase on Oct. 1 of next year and an additional 4.5% raise on Oct. 1 of 2024.
The offer also includes a 16% hike in health care contributions over the same period, in addition to chipping in 26.4% of salary to the Orange County Employees Retirement System and $1.30 per hour worked -- up to 2,080
hours -- to the Western Conference of Teamsters Pension Fund.
The top wage for mechanics would be $43.19 per hour, or $90,000 annually, which doesn't include health care and pension contributions, according to the OCTA.
OCTA officials argued that because the maintenance employees are in the union's trust for their health insurance benefits, the cost of the plan and design of it is up to the Teamsters.
Bus drivers, who are under the agency's health care plan, pay about $120 per month for health care, and OCTA has offered to provide health care options to lower the monthly cost for the mechanics, according to the agency.
Union representatives said they feel they have done everything they can to settle the labor dispute, which has lingered since negotiations began May 25.
City News Service, Inc. contributed to this report.