DENVER – The region's mass-transit agency and a union representing 1,700 striking workers have a tentative contract deal, and union leaders planned to discuss it with members as the strike entered a fourth day Thursday.
Details of the proposed contract won't be announced until after a vote planned for Friday, mediator Christel Jorgensen said. She said the walkout would continue at least until then.
"Our members have the right to hear about this offer from our officers ... and then to make up their own mind," union President Yvette Salazar said.
Nearly 1,750 bus drivers, light-rail operators and mechanics walked off the job early Monday in the city's first transit strike in 24 years. Only limited bus service has continued on a system that averaged 275,000 rides a day.
Many workers were upset at the Regional Transportation District's wage-and-benefits offer after managers were given raises of 38 percent to 48 percent. Union pay has been frozen since 2003.
Transit agency spokesman Scott Reed called the talks "very positive."
"The federal mediator was a big help, and she has been part of this process for the past several weeks," he said.
Fifty-five percent of workers who voted rejected the last contract offer, which union leaders had recommended they accept, triggering the strike. That offer had included a wage hike of $1.80 an hour over three years in 15-cent raises every quarter, plus increases in health benefits.
The striking workers said they are feeling the financial pinch.
Sandra Almanza, a 34-year-old part-time bus driver, said she has told her 7-year-old daughter they could not visit McDonald's or go to see a movie.
"I'm OK now because I was paying stuff in advance," she said.
The transit authority runs bus and light-rail systems in Denver and seven surrounding counties, a service area with about 2.5 million residents. This week, the agency has operated about 45 percent of its bus routes by using private contractors.