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Metro MEDIA RELATIONS
(213) 922-4609/922-2700 www.metro.net/press/pressroom
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
by Roger Snoble
Chief Executive Officer, Metro
October 27, 2003
Over this past weekend our
negotiating team met with both the mechanics' union and the bus operators'
union. No progress was made toward arriving at a settlement of either contract.
As a result, the Metro Board has concluded we have reached an impasse with the
mechanics' union, and the Board has instructed me to prepare a last, best and
final offer to the ATU.
The Board does not take this
decision lightly, but at this time, it has come to the conclusion that further
talks will yield no progress.
Our best estimate is that we
are currently $37 million apart on health and welfare issues, and overall,
approximately $98 million apart. Time's a wasting; people are being hurt; the
end of Daylight Savings Time creates additional reasons for us to hurry up, as
it now becomes more of a safety issue.
The Metro mechanics' strike
is the fifth longest strike by Metro workers of the ten strikes that have been
called here since 1960. The last strike called by the bus drivers three years
ago lasted 32 days. During the last strike, the average worker lost about
$5,000. So far this strike has cost the average worker about $2,000 and still
It continues to be very
disappointing to be in this position. Metro, like other governmental agencies and
businesses, is facing very difficult financial challenges triggered by the State
budget crisis and very uncertain federal funding. In addition to rising health
care costs, workers compensation and fuel prices are spiraling out of control.
We have had to move hundreds of transportation capital improvement projects to
the back burner and are having to borrow money just to keep projects already
On the operations side, we
have had to face the stark reality of living within our means and doing more
with less. This year's budget has a net 104 fewer regular employees and 100
fewer as-needed contract employees, even with starting the new Metro Gold Line
and adding more Metro Rapid Bus routes. Our non-union employees have not and
will not receive pay increases in this fiscal year. On January 1, 2004, Metro
Transit Pass prices will be increased by 23% to a monthly cost of $52.00. In
addition, we have had to reduce some services on lower performing bus routes to
improve service on overcrowded routes.
In spite of these challenges,
we are able to put on the bargaining table reasonable proposals to continue to
provide our employees with good health care benefits and wage increases next
year, and the year after, to go along with the already generous retirement plan
that allows our hourly employees to work only 23 years and retire with full
pension rights and paid health insurance until they reach the age of 65.
This strike was ill-advised
to begin with, but certainly has continued for far too long already. After 17
months of essentially no progress at the bargaining table, even after the unions
decided to bring the Metro to a standstill that, at best disrupts the entire
region, the Metro is saying enough is enough. We urge the mechanics' union
leadership to take this offer to our employees and recommend its passage.
Additional delay in accepting this offer will simply lead to more suffering by
The Board of Directors has
also directed me to express in the strongest possible terms to the labor unions,
our employees, and the public, that there is no more money that can be or will
be added to this offer.
Again we would like to thank
the municipal operators, Metrolink and all of those who are helping to get
people moving while this terrible situation is underway.
are terribly sorry for any hardship that the mechanics' union strike has
caused to our valued customers and hope that this latest effort will be
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