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Capital Metro drivers, mechanics to strike today

Wednesday, November 5, 2008 by Austin Monitor

Barring any last-second agreements, bus drivers and mechanics for most of Capital Metro’s bus system will strike today. The Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1091 and StarTran, Capital Metro’s management subsidiary, exchanged letters on Tuesday outlining their positions but neither side backed down in order to avoid a walkout.


The transit agency has had a contingency plan in place for several weeks in case of a strike. Capital Metro said it would operate 13 of its “core” routes beginning today, and if the strike continues, expand service as additional personnel become available.  Cap Metro normally operates about 70 routes, with more than 6,000 riders a day.


The next bargaining session is scheduled for Friday.


Jay Wyatt, president of ATU, sent a letter to Terry Garcia Crews, general manager of StarTran, saying the union was interested in a plan outlined by Council Member Mike Martinez to sign a short-term agreement and have an audit performed on the agency, basing the results on future contracts on the findings.


Crews responded Tuesday afternoon, saying she preferred to negotiate directly with the union rather than through third parties. She asked Wyatt to call off the strike until Friday’s negotiating session. A spokeswoman at ATU headquarters said late Tuesday that the union was still planning to walk off their jobs today.


The two sides have been at odds for 18 months, and the union has been working for more than a year without a contract. Sources say negotiations are stuck over a $1,000 bonus StarTran is offering as back pay for the 2007-08 contract year. The union wants a 3 percent raise for that year.


Detailed information on Capital Metro’s planned routes is available on the agency’s web site or by calling 474-1200.

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