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Workers at Southern California transit agencies plan to walk off the job Thursday

Workers at Southern California transit agencies plan to walk off the job Thursday

Orange County bus mechanics, machinists and techs to begin strike, halting service

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A group of workers at Southern California transportation agencies and companies plan to walk off the job Thursday to press for higher wages, health benefits and improved transit and public transportation.

The labor action follows the same week that an audit found the county’s transit system was short $1.7 billion in promised payments to the contractor that operates and maintains them.

The employees will walk off the job Thursday at 4 p.m. at eight of county’s nine transit agencies, according to the union that represents them. The union says it is also looking at plans to picket the county’s other transit agencies and is working with them to stop the work stoppage.

“We’re not going to take any action. We’re not going to stop. We’re not going to do anything,” said Frank Salvato, president of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers. “We want to go back to work.”

Salvato said he is encouraged by the county’s proposed transit plan, which would invest about $75 million in a high-frequency bus system that could allow riders to hop on and off at bus stops instead of waiting for the buses.

“We understand the frustration, but we want to go back to work,” Salvato said.

County supervisors asked the county counsel to look into the labor dispute. The county’s counsel, William Bawden Jr., says he does not have a timeline to make a recommendation about the labor action at this point but says he hopes to take “several weeks” to do so.

The labor action against the county comes amid growing public anger over the recent audit of its transit system, which found $1.7 billion in overdue payments that were to be recouped from the county.

The audit found $9.6 million was owed to the county’s contractor, Muni, on the more than 1,900 bus stops it operates. Muni and the County Transit Services board decided to stop payments to Muni in August, saying they have no more

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