A transit workers union voted overwhelmingly Wednesday night against a labor contract offer by the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority, opening up the possibility for VTA's first-ever strike in the next month.
The Amalgamated Transit Union Local 265 collected 912 "no" votes and 92 "yes" votes for the offer, which asked that union employees gradually begin increasing their pension contribution over the next three years, along with an 8% wage increase.
The groups had already reached 37 tentative agreements previously, but were unable to find common ground on the wage and pension issues.
If the union workers decide to strike, they will have to give VTA a 72-hour notice of their work stoppage. VTA has also contacted Gov. Gavin Newsom's office to request a "cooling period" that would last at least seven days and possibly bring both groups back to the bargaining table.
The strike could then happen as early as the first week of July.
VTA officials say they have a reserve of trained contract workers that could take over bus routes, but light-rail service will be impacted because it is a highly skilled task. Overall, only a fraction of VTA routes will be in service.
Going into negotiations, VTA believed its offer was "fair and equitable" to all employees.
About 1,300 "classic employees" in the union hired before 2016 currently contribute 1.9% of their gross salary toward a pension fund, and all other employees contribute 6%.
VTA wanted to bring these employees up to a 5% contribution over three years, but was only offering a 3.1% lump sum per employee's salary to offset the first year of increased costs.
The union could not be reached for comment, but indicated before the vote on Wednesday afternoon that members were poised to shoot down the offer.
VTA officials said they will continue providing updates to riders as they learn more about the timing of a potential strike.