Glitch delays buses’ return

Information gaps pushed back a meeting of the union’s executive board.

by Britt Johnsen

While union officials brought the transit strike closer to an end Wednesday, students rallied at the University supporting transit strikers.

“Whether they vote to accept it, we will be here to support them,” senior Garrett Fitzgerald said.

Approximately 200 Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1005 supporters and those affected by the strike gathered outside of Coffman Union to back Metro Transit workers.

While students rallied, officers on the union’s executive board reviewed the materials for the tentative contract agreement, a union official said.

The executive board will meet at 9 a.m. today. The board scheduled a union meeting at Northrop Auditorium today from 6 p.m. to 11 p.m. and Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the union’s headquarters.

Because of a delay in a series of meetings, the earliest date buses could start operating is Sunday or Monday, said Frank Collins, a member of the union’s education committee.

Both sides had hoped to get the buses running as early as Saturday.

The executive board met later than expected because of information loopholes in the tentative contract agreement.

Peter Bell, Metropolitan Council chairman, said the missing information was “complex and voluminous,” and involved monthly health-care

calculations for active and retired employees.

Bell said the agreement was tentative and that this is

typical in contract negotiations.

“We don’t want to give them a document where the figures are wrong,” Bell said. “The time to do that isn’t after the vote and say, ‘Oops.’ “

Union president Ron Lloyd was unavailable for comment.

Before the union can vote on the contract, Collins said the union’s executive board needs to review its details and formally meet to approve it.

Once the board passes the contract, the union votes. He said the union’s voting process usually takes place over a two-day period.

Bell said once the union

approves the agreement, the Met Council will look over the contract and decide whether to pass it.

Once both groups pass it, officials will set a date to get the buses running again.

Collins said that because of the delay in action, the original Saturday estimate for getting buses running is doubtful.

“There seems to be some pressure on us to get the

buses running by Saturday,” he said. “We’re hoping for Sunday or Monday.”

Metro Transit spokesman Bob Gibbons said the vote dates impact when buses will run again. Gibbons said

the buses are prepared and ready.

Graduate student Susan Kang said the end to the strike cannot happen soon enough. She said she has relied on other people for rides and even walked the four-mile distance from her Uptown residence to campus a few times.

She said she supports the union workers but wants “the buses back as soon as possible.”