The Austin Chronicle

StarTran Rejects Martinez Proposal

By Lee Nichols, November 4, 2008, 3:34pm, Newsdesk

Earlier today, we printed a letter from Jay Wyatt, president of Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1091, requesting that StarTran Inc. accept the proposal by City Council Member Mike Martinez to avert a Wednesday strike by Capital Metro's drivers and maintenance workers. StarTran CEO Terry Garcia Crews just sent a reply letter to Wyatt rejecting the Martinez proposal and saying that "I truly believe that the negotiation process should be kept between the negotiating committee members for ATU and StarTran …."

Crews said that she will wait for scheduled negotiations on Friday, so that apparently means the strike will indeed begin on Wednesday morning.

The text of Crews' letter follows after the jump:

Dear Mr. Wyatt:

I am in receipt of your letter dated November 4, 2008. I appreciate the efforts that Council Member Mike Martinez’s proposal has undertaken to facilitate a contract settlement. However, I truly believe that the negotiation process should be kept between the negotiating committee members for ATU and StarTran while keeping Commissioner Clint Hart, Federal Mediator, involved in the process as well.

During this negotiation process, we have communicated to you that there is an $8.2 million allocation to this proposal, and we would be willing to divide this up accordingly. Both sides agreed to a four-year contract and with this goal in mind we calculated the wage increases. The concern with what is currently being proposed by an independent party is that this spends the entire allocation in two years as opposed to four years. This leaves our employees with zero increases for the third and fourth years. Further, it does not surprise me that you support this current proposal regarding retroactive pay since this was the Union’s original proposal.

However, rather than communicating these concerns via correspondence, I believe it would be in the best interest for both sides to have this dialogue across the table on Friday. It is important for both sides to realize there is a responsibility to remain competitive with other contractors; in an effort, to preserve jobs and offer employment stability. Further, it would be in the best interest of our employees, families and the community to “call off” the work stoppage; so, that we can address the contract settlement issues. I find that your desire to call for a work stoppage puzzling when we have mutually agreed to meet on Friday.

I ask that you reconsider pursuing this work stoppage; so, we can remain focused on contract settlement rather than the logistics of a strike. Please make me aware of your decision by 5:00 pm today.

Terry Garcia Crews
General Manager

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