The Austin Chronicle

Cap Metro Crisis

By Michael King, November 16, 2012, News

By the time you read this, Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1091 – which represents about 600 drivers and mechanics who drive buses for Capital Metro via Fort Worth-based subcontractor McDonald Transit – may be out on strike. Earlier this week, ATU 1091 President Jay Wyatt told the Chronicle that negotiations with McDonald had come to a standstill, and in his words: "We learned years ago, that if you're talking to a wall, you don't expect a response from a wall. So we just quit talking to the wall." Union members voted to authorize a strike last week (see "Fiscal Cliff? Try Cap Metro Cliff," Newsdesk blog, Nov. 9), and Wyatt said Monday: "We have no choice. [A strike] will happen some time this week." He blamed management – and most specifically Capital Metro, not a direct party to the negotiations – for setting the strategy and planning to force a strike.

Capital Metro spokesman Dan Dawson denied the agency has any interest in a strike – "Oh my goodness, heavens no!" were his exact words – but said the agency was preparing for any contingency, with drivers drawn from other contractors or ATU members who decide not to strike. McDonald Transit Managing Director John Bartosiewicz said Tuesday that more bargaining sessions are scheduled for next week, and that he was surprised by Wyatt's statements. "Any talk of a strike I would consider premature," Bartosiewicz said, "as negotiations are continuing."

Late Tuesday, Wyatt said the situation had not changed, but no strike decision had yet been made. Check the Newsdesk blog for updates.

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