Bus union backers rally at the Capitol

Britt Johnsen

Second-year University law student Andrew Hamilton is taking a stand against the bus strike.

“A lot of students know exactly what’s going on and we’re behind (the union) 100 percent,” he said.

Among choruses of frustration and support, drum beats and chanting, Hamilton spoke to a crowd of approximately 1,000 people. Hamilton and other transit-strike supporters rallied Saturday at the State Capitol for an end to the strike.

The Metropolitan Council, which oversees Metro Transit, and Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1005, representing 2,150 Metro Transit workers, will meet again today. No officials would release information about where or when the meeting will take place. This will be their third negotiation since transit workers walked off the job March 4.

Met Council Chairman Peter Bell has said there is no more money to put on the table, but he said Thursday he thinks there could be progress with today’s negotiations.

Senior Rosemary Fister said she thinks more students will get involved as they become increasingly upset with the situation.

Kevin Jack, a General College first-year student, said he is frustrated with the bus strike.

“Without (buses) I’m kind of screwed,” he said.

Jack, who lives with his parents in St. Paul, said he does not have a driver’s license and does not have the option of driving. He said he relies on his parents and friends to get to school.

Jennifer Dunnam, a University’s Disability Services supervisor, said her students are affected and wants to see the strike end soon.

“The bus is our method and we want it back,” said Dunnam, who is also the Minneapolis chapter president of National Federation of the Blind. “Buses are used by lots and lots of different kinds of people. It’s important for the life of this community.”

Ryan Murphy, who said he will be a University graduate student in the fall, said he is worried about the livability of a city without buses.

“The ‘U’ is such a hub of cultural activity,” he said. “Without public transit, it’s a less vibrant and less interesting place to live.”

Senior Canyon Lalama said his roommates are annoyed with giving him rides so he walks from his south Minneapolis residence everyday.

“I hope (Gov. Tim) Pawlenty and Bell give in,” he said. “It seems like they don’t care about how the strike is affecting people, and they need to do something about it as soon as possible.”

Lalama said he was at the rally not only to express his viewpoint but also to voice concern about Minnesota health care.

Ty Moore, a striking Metro Transit driver, said he hopes today’s negotiations bring them closer to a conclusion.

“That’s a tough situation we’re in but the mood is determined,” he said. “The reality is we can’t strike forever, but I think we’re going to hold out as long as we possibly can.”