U plans partial bus-pass refund

Britt Johnsen

If a transit strike occurs, a plan to refund U-Pass and Metropass holders is in place, said Parking and Transportation Services officials Thursday.

“You can’t really say you have to pay for a service that’s not going to run and pay for parking,” said Lori Ann Vicich, marketing manager for the department.

If a strike occurs, 14,000 U-Pass holders will be refunded, Vicich said. The credit will be based on a 40-cent-per-day rate. Because the minimum credit allowed is $5, credits cannot be given if the strike is shorter than 13 days, she said.

Depending on how students paid for their pass, the refunds will go either to their University student accounts or credit cards, she said. Refunds will be applied after the strike ends.

For the 1,500 Metropass customers, the plan works differently, Vicich said. University employees usually get $50 per month deducted from their paychecks to pay for the pass. If a strike occurs, deductions halt immediately. As soon as the strike ends, the first deduction will be adjusted to reflect the amount of service not offered.

Monday marks the last day for the 10-day cooling-off period. The Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1005 and Metropolitan Council will have their final meeting with a state mediator Monday morning.

Ronald Lloyd, the union’s president, said they will again discuss the option to enter binding arbitration. Binding arbitration means a neutral third party would decide for both parties and each are legally bound to the decision.

Last month, the parties considered arbitration as an option, but they could not decide on which issues to arbitrate. Health care and wages are at the core of the disagreement.

After the union voted to

reject a contract offer by 94 percent earlier this month, a strike was authorized. The union has 20 days to strike starting Tuesday.

Lloyd said arbitration would be a good option to avoid a possible strike.

Metropolitan Council Chairman Peter Bell said a decision to arbitrate could not be made as soon as Monday.

“I would prefer that (the union) accepts the offer that we have put on the table,” he said.