ST. LOUIS (KMOX) – Metro riders may have to find another mode of transportation come early July.
Tuesday, 500 members of Amalgamated Transit Local 788 authorized a strike though union members say this does not mean a strike is immanent.
“Nothing will actually happen until probably the first part of July,” says Local 788 Business Agent Mike Breihan. “We have to wait for the mediator to get back to us with his final decision, and then Metro and ourselves both have to review it, and decided if we’re going to accept it or not.”
The next step will be the mediator’s decision, Breihan says, which should happen by June 28th. That decision must be posted in the paper for 10 days.
Then, around July 8 or 9, the union will make a decision whether or not to strike.
Breihan tells KMOX if Metro Management goes back to the table, a strike may not happen.
He says Metro management walked away from the negotiations last week.
“It all came to a head Friday, our last meeting, the agency’s attorneys basically just walked out,” Breihan says. “They didn’t tell the mediator they were leaving; they didn’t tell us they were leaving. They just walked out of the building. That’s where it all started from.”
He adds that Metro’s labor relations person did not show up to the meeting Friday, it was just the agency’s two attorneys.
Breihan says the big issue at hand is Metro’s proposed pension changes.
“We are willing to change the new employees to 30 years, so they can retire with 30 years of service instead of 25,” he says. “There are some other changes that we are willing to do also, that will save them money.”
Breihan says Local 788 uses the same accounting firm that Metro uses, but he adds that Metro says if the union does not accept a 401k, in place of the pension plan, they will not have a contract.
“The last word was, if you guys don’t take a 401k we don’t have a contract,” he says.
Breihan says transit workers do not want to hurt public transportation riders and hopes Metro officials will go back to the bargaining table.