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Rail News: Passenger Rail

LA transit strike looms Friday

United Transportation Union officials announced their intent to strike Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) at 12:01 a.m. Friday, Sept. 15, if a contract agreement isn’t reached.

MTA’s plan to require bus workers to work four 10-hour split-shift days is "certainly the main sticking point," says UTU spokesman Goldy Norton.

But "4-10" would affect only 13 percent of its bus operators, says Ed Scannell, MTA spokesman.

The current contract stipulates that bus operators are paid for eight hours, but they must be available to work over a 10-hour span to cover peak periods. About 13 percent of MTA’s bus operators work 10 hours within a 12-hour span, says Scannell, adding that about 90 percent of the overtime shifts are filled on a volunteer basis.

"Why [is the union] allowing them to volunteer if they’re unsafe?" he asks.

Although 4-10 would affect only bus drivers, UTU represents both MTA bus and train operators. And if UTU workers picket, Amalgamated Transit Union and Transportation Communications International Union — both of which also are in contract negotiations — would honor the strike, disabling public transportation throughout Los Angeles. That’s something MTA and its unions would prefer to avoid.

"The clock is ticking," says Scannell. "It’s always been ticking, but it’s ticking a little louder."

Kathi Kube

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 9/11/2000