Transit union looks for student support at rally

by Britt Johnsen

A rally supporting the bus strike in Stadium Village at noon today might draw at least 300 people, a union official said.

Ronald Lloyd, president of the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1005, said because the strike affects many students – at least 14,000 U-Pass users – it is important to rally at the University.

The event will include speakers and will be held outside the McNamara alumni center on Oak Street.

Lloyd said students are key resources for change.

“That’s how the war stopped in Vietnam,” he said.

The noon rally will coincide with a Board of Regents meeting, where University Regent and Metropolitan Council Chairman Peter Bell will be. The Met Council oversees Metro Transit.

The University clerical workers’ union – American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Local 3800 – is co-organizing the rally.

“This first happened at the (University) last October when we went on strike,” said Phyllis Walker, the clerical workers’ union president. “Someone has to stand up and fight this.”

Bell said he supports rallies.

“People certainly have a right to express their feelings and make their feelings known,” he said.

The transit union, which represents 2,150 transit workers, and Met Council have a contract dispute involving wage and health-care issues.

Lloyd said the union will not accept Met Council’s offer and will continue picketing for as long as it takes.

“We need them to come back to the table,” Lloyd said.

Bell has said there are no more offers to make.

“I don’t see a reason to get back to the table if we don’t have any resources to put on the table,” he said. “And the plain fact is we don’t have any.”

State mediator Alan Olson said there are no plans to come back to the bargaining table.

“There aren’t any meetings scheduled and there isn’t any talk of getting back to the table,” he said.

University parking

Lori Ann Vicich, marketing manager for Parking and Transportation Services, said the University has increased parking but it has gone “smooth” since the strike started. But, she said, complications could arise as early as today.

Various high school and college sports events will take place on campus all month.

“These tournaments would normally create a tight parking situation on the East Bank,” Vicich said. “Coupled with the transit strike, we really need customers to take our advice.”

She said people should plan ahead, get to the University early, carpool and park in the fairgrounds lot, which does not fill up fast and lets U-Pass and Metropass users pay the carpool rate even if they are alone.