Strike by Foothill Transit Bus Drivers Settled Within Hours

A strike by union bus drivers for Foothill Transit, the county's second-biggest bus operator, apparently ended Wednesday only hours after it began when transit management and union leaders reached a tentative settlement on a dispute over wages and benefits, according to company officials.

"We are pleased the union has decide to call off this strike," said Stephen Keiper, regional vice president of Laidlaw Transit Services, a private company that operates the blue and white buses for Foothill and employs the drivers.

Placard-carrying drivers from Teamsters Local 572, in a dispute over wages and benefits, began demonstrating before dawn at the entrance to the Baldwin Avenue facility in El Monte. Sixteen bus drivers failed to report for work, transit officials said.

But Foothill officials said there were no service delays or problems because the vast majority of the firm's more than 200 bus drivers are not members of the union and did not participate in the protest.

El Monte police said the peaceful picketing went without incident.

A contract between Laidlaw and the drivers recently expired. Laidlaw officials said late Wednesday that a tentative agreement had been reached, but details were still being worked out.

Union officials could not be reached for comment.

Laidlaw officials said they maintained full service by calling in nine standby drivers who usually cover in cases of illness and by deploying seven drivers who were on a training program.

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