GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. (CBS4) – Local union bus drivers and support staff at Grand Valley Transit voted unanimously late Tuesday evening to authorize union leaders to call a strike after negotiations failed earlier in the day.

(credit: CBS)

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Judi DeRusha, President, ATU Local 1776 says “a strike isn’t good for our passengers or our paychecks.”

It’s unclear when a strike could be called but last minute negotiations may resume.

(credit: CBS)

The union and Transdev, a French-based private contractor hired by GVT to operate the service, have been in negotiations since the fall of 2018.

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(credit: CBS)

Currently, GVT’s professional bus operators are required to qualify for and carry a commercial driver’s license (CDL), pass rigorous drug testing, and go through extensive training, yet the union says are paid just $11.25 an hour after their first year on the job. They top out after five years at $13.65 an hour.

“We are simply asking to earn enough to survive, raise a family, or retire on the Western Slope,” DeRusha added.

Union members cast their votes Tuesday night. (credit: CBS)

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The collective bargaining agreement, which both parties are attempting to honor, expired on Dec. 31.