War of words over possible Metro Strike

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ST. LOUIS, MO. (KPLR) – The man in charge of the areas mass transit system is warning riders to be prepared for delays or even a shutdown.

John Nations says riders have called Metro to say some drivers have told them that they are going on strike on Monday.

The president of Local 788 Amalgamated Transit Union says there is no strike.  Mike Breihan says the union will first wait for a mediator to finish his report and would then give proper notice before walking out.  Local 788 members did vote earlier this month to authorize the union to call strike.

Nations says more workers than usual are turning down requests to work overtime and that alone could cause problems.

“If we are convinced that we will not have the manpower to run a safe and dependable service, we will close the public transportation system,” said Nations.

Some riders just wish the situation would be resolved so they could be assured they have a way to and from work.

Breihan says no job action is in the works.  He says if there’s strike, it would not happen until mid-July at the earliest.

“We are still willing to negotiate,” said Breihan.

Nations has said that the union wanted a mediator involved and so he is letting that process run its course.

At the heart of the dispute is a proposal for future employees to be part of a 401K system instead of a defined pension plan.

Nations says Metro does not have the money to continue to run pensions they way they’ve been operated in the past.  Breihan disputes that claim.

Both sides also disagree on whether a strike by mass transit workers is illegal.  Nations says it is.  Breihan says if necessary, union lawyers would argue that a walkout is legal.

Nations says Metro should know by approximately 4 a.m. whether any type of sick-out is taking place on Monday.

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