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AMALGAMATED TRANSIT UNION LOCAL 757: DOES TRI-MET WANT A STRIKE?

 AMALGAMATED TRANSIT UNION LOCAL 757: DOES TRI-MET WANT A STRIKE?
 PORTLAND, Ore., March 13 /PRNewswire/ -- The following was released today by the Amalgamated Transit Union, Local 757:
 It sure looks that way, according to Ron Heintzman, the business representative of the Amalgamated Transit Union, Local 757.
 At the unfair labor practice hearing scheduled for Oregon Employment Relations Board on Thursday, March 12, Heintzman and Walsh began talking informally about averting a strike.
 Walsh told the labor leader that he had some flexibility with the $16.5 million figure and could they work something out. Heintzman believed so. The union was probably willing to move forward a money- saving dual health and welfare trust change by one year, and also to delay 1 percent of the negotiated raise.
 Walsh wanted to cancel the unfair labor practice hearing and talk with the union at the union's headquarters at 1:30 p.m. Heintzman agreed. He also agreed, as a condition of continued talks to not tell the media about the afternoon meeting. In the public statement, Walsh said that the delay had come at the request of the hearings officer. This was untrue.
 At 1:30 p.m. the union's negotiating team was ready. They waited, and waited. Finally, at 3:30 -- two hours late -- Tri-Met negotiators arrived.
 The union showed how its suggested changes -- moving ahead the health and welfare dual trust change would move the two-year contract costs to within $500,000 of Tri-Met's original offer ($16.5 million) even considering (so far non-existent) third year costs. If there was any flexibility in Tri-Met's budget, the conflict was over.
 Tri-Met rejected it outright. They said the numbers weren't right, especially the health insurance figures for non-union workers. The union said, "OK, what are the actual numbers?"
 Tri-Met's Finance Director Dave Auxier said he didn't know and could not produce the monthly health insurance premium Tri-Met is now paying. He refused to get those figures.
 This refusal continued for the next five hours, until Walsh announced he was going on a ski trip and could they cancel the unfair labor hearing scheduled for the following morning (today, March 13).
 Two other Tri-Met Board members are also on vacation, out of the country.
 The union is flabbergasted.
 "They say they don't have any of the numbers, but we've been negotiating for five months, and had over 35 meetings -- at considerable cost to the union and the taxpayer. But I guess when the taxpayer is paying the bill, you don't care what negotiations cost," Heintzman said.
 Heintzman also said he was disappointed by Gov. Barbara Roberts' lack of interest in this conflict. "Thousand of people depend on the bus to get to work, to the doctor, to see relatives. More than a thousand men and women will be idled by a strike. Yet, when faced with hundreds of petitions, she simply said, 'I hope both sides follow the state-mandated procedures,'" he said.
 Heintzman observes bitterly that Walsh contributed $6,000 to the Roberts-for-Governor campaign two years ago.
 "We may be unable to avert a strike. That would be tragic for my membership and for the city. I can't believe they can behave so irresponsibly in these times of economic stress," Heintzman continued.
 Heintzman has repeatedly called for the resignation of several Tri-Met board members. "Why doesn't the board have members who ride the buses?"
 Heintzman just entered the primary for a position on Metropolitan Service District 4.
 Walsh is due to return sometime after March 23.
 That's the same day that the union is thinking about asking its membership for strike authorization.
 -0- 3/13/92
 /CONTACT: Jason Reynolds of The Creative Factory, 503-225-0686, for the Amalgamated Transit Union, Local 757/ CO: Tri-Met; Amalgamated Transit Union, Local 757 ST: Oregon IN: SU:


JH-LM -- SE007 -- 8014 03/13/92 19:03 EST
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Date:Mar 13, 1992
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