City tells Sun Tran to speed up negotiations
Friday September 14, 2001
An estimated 3,000 UA students, staff affected by bus strikes
The mayor and city council need to deal with the now nine-day-old Sun Tran strike and stop politically repressing public business, said Tucson City Council member Steve Leal at a press conference yesterday at El Presidio Park.
Leal also accused Sun Tran management of not negotiating in good faith and prolonging the community's transportation crisis.
The City Council voted 4-3 Monday against discussing the strike or taking any action. Leal was one of the members who voted in the minority.
Leal said the situation is not just between management and labor - it is a community issue.
"It is unconscionable that the city play this kind of hardball and this kind of bad faith with the voters," he said.
Raul Grijalva, chairman of the Pima Board of Supervisors, also spoke at the press conference on behalf of city mediation.
"This is no time for mayor and council to get into a bunker mentality where they dig in, close their eyes and avoid reality," he said. "Labor has shown good faith throughout this, and now it is time that our elected officials return that good faith."
Andy Marshall, principal executive officer of Teamsters Local 104 - the union made up of striking drivers and mechanics - said after the conference that the union should not be held responsible for the lack of negotiations.
"There's been a perception that the Teamsters have been a kind of stumbling block in this whole issue," he said.
Marshall said negotiations revolve around health care plan proposals in the three-year, $3.6 million contract. The Teamsters recently rejected a proposal offered through a federal mediator - a plan that would require them to pay $360 per month for health insurance for the next two years, and $465 per month for the following year.
The union has accused Sun Tran of not bargaining in good faith and has filed its third charge of unfair labor practice with the National Labor Relations Board.
Though the exact number of University of Arizona students and employees affected by the strike is not known, Parking and Transportation Services estimated that around 3,000 U-Passes were sold last year. U-Passes are bus passes sold at a discount to members of the UA community in increments of a semester, academic or calendar year.
Caroline Coan, a sophomore majoring in Spanish, said she wondered how much longer the strike would go on.
"Seeing how a week has passed without a solution, I think it's time for the city to intervene," she said.
Other students have had to resort to traveling by foot.
"I catch the bus to get to classes at Pima Community College (downtown campus)," said Joel Baker, a physical science junior. "I guess I'll just walk."
Marshall said the workers union will meet with Sun Tran officials tomorrow morning to discuss further negotiations.