- Associated Press - Thursday, January 7, 2016

PHOENIX (AP) - Hundreds of Phoenix bus drivers finished voting Thursday night on a proposed deal with a city-contracted transit company amid speculation of a strike.

The union that represents the drivers said two days of voting was to be completed by 9 p.m. Union officials said they are expecting Transdev’s “best and final offer” would be rejected.

A news conference was scheduled for 9:30 p.m. outside the north Phoenix headquarters of Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1433 “to discuss the results and lay out the details of a strike,” according to a statement by a union bargaining committee member.

The Phoenix Public Transit Department has already warned bus riders to prepare for a strike as early as Friday on Transdev’s 34 routes.

A strike would disrupt bus service on many of Phoenix’s major routes with thousands of college football fans expected to be in the city leading up to Monday night’s national championship game in suburban Glendale.

Union officials said sticking points in the negotiations include bereavement time and uniform allowances for the bus drivers plus a tiered payment system and vacation time.

Transdev officials said they were offering a fair contract providing a 3 percent annual wage increase retroactive to July, if accepted without a work stoppage.

Negotiations began in April and resumed last month after a six-week hiatus.

Union officials originally called for a strike at midnight Monday after contract talks stalled. But both sides returned to the negotiation table Tuesday and bus service operated normally during the voting period.

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