VALLEY TRANSIT DISTRICT IN PERIL; BILL COULD BE DEADLY BUT BACKERS PRESS ON.
Byline: Terri Hardy Sacramento Bureau
With a showdown looming over control of local bus services, Democratic legislators representing the San Fernando Valley San Fernando Valley
Valley, southern California, U.S. Northwest of central Los Angeles, the valley is bounded by the San Gabriel, Santa Susana, and Santa Monica mountains and the Simi Hills. have lined up with organized labor Organized Labor
An association of workers united as a single, representative entity for the purpose of improving the workers' economic status and working conditions through collective bargaining with employers. Also known as "unions". against the community's civic and business leadership.
Capitol insiders said the issue has deteriorated into a bitter fight, and lawmakers are desperate for a compromise to avoid a political time bomb.
So sensitive is the issue that Assembly Speaker Antonio Villaraigosa Antonio Ramon Villaraigosa (born Antonio (Tony) Ramon Villar, Jr. on January 23, 1953) is the mayor of Los Angeles, California. He is the first Latino mayor of Los Angeles since Cristobal Aguilar in 1872. , D-Los Angeles, worked behind the scenes to get a one-week delay for the two sides to find a solution. But in two meetings this week they failed to hammer out a compromise - a goal which now seems impossible, some say.
At issue is Senate Bill 1101, a measure which would affect both the ongoing effort to create a San Fernando Valley transit zone to take over Metropolitan Transportation Authority bus lines as well as Foothill Transit Zone's desire to expand in the San Gabriel Valley The San Gabriel Valley is one of the principal valleys of southern California. It lies to the east of the city of Los Angeles, to the north of the Puente Hills, to the south of the San Gabriel Mountains, and to the west of the Inland Empire. .
The bill requires that MTA (1) (Message Transfer Agent or Mail Transfer Agent) The store and forward part of a messaging system. See messaging system.
(2) See M Technology Association.
1. (messaging) MTA - Message Transfer Agent. union contracts be maintained under a new zone.
San Fernando Valley leaders say the provision would negate any cost savings, essentially killing the zone plan.
``This bill will separate the legislators whose first concern is the San Fernando Valley versus the lawmakers whose first concern is protecting labor and their own self-interests,'' said Richard Close, president of the Sherman Oaks Homeowners Association, who emphasized that he was not speaking in his capacity as a leader of the movement to study Valley secession.
Close said the first goal of lawmakers must be improving bus service in the Valley and eight neighboring cities for the transit-dependent - mainly students, the elderly and lower-income people.
Labor leaders argue that they must protect workers' pay and benefits, saying the matter is a ``life and death'' union issue.
Four Valley Democrats in the Assembly - Sheila Kuehl Sheila James Kuehl (born February 9, 1941 in Tulsa, Oklahoma) is an American politician, and a former child actress. She is currently a Democratic member of the California State Senate, representing the highly urbanized 23rd district in Los Angeles County and parts of southern , Wally Knox, Tony Cardenas Tony Cardenas served in the California State Assembly. In the Assembly, he had the powerful position of chair of the Budget Committee. He is now a Los Angeles City Councilman, representing the 6th district, which includes parts of the San Fernando Valley. and Scott Wildman Scott Wildman was a California State Assemblyman from 1996 until 2000. That year, he lost a State Senate primary to Dr. Jack Scott, an Assemblyman from a neighboring district. Wildman received 46.7% of the vote. - have signed on as co-authors of SB 1101. State Sen. Richard Alarcon voted for it.
``People are concerned that if they don't do what labor wants they won't get endorsed in their tough races next year,'' said former Assemblyman as·sem·bly·man
A man who is a member of a legislative assembly.
pl -men a member of a legislative assembly
Noun 1. Richard Katz, who served as chairman of the Assembly Transportation Committee.
Valley vs. labor
Katz now is co-chairman of the Valley Industry and Commerce Association's transportation committee, which opposes SB 1101.
``It's Valley versus labor, and I think they are hoping that they can duck the issue and no one will care,'' he said. ``But if I were them, I wouldn't want to be the one that ends the possibility of expanding options for bus riders.''
Legislators dismiss allegations that they are acting in their own self-interest, and say SB 1101 is a good bill.
``I believe the services provided by the MTA workers is beyond reproach - no one has a problem with the bus drivers,'' said Assemblyman Scott Wildman, D-Glendale. ``Making the MTA more sensitive to the needs of the Valley is really the best answer.''
Labor leaders said Valley lawmakers support the bill because they ``understand the need to protect workers.''
``We always work hard on our bills, but we're not trying to engender fear,'' said Barry Broad, legislative advocate for the Amalgamated Transit Union The Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) is a labor union in the United States and Canada, representing workers in the transit system and other industries.
The ATU was founded in 1892, and today has more than 180,000 members in more than 273 local unions in 46 states and 9 . ``It is a life and death issue for us.''
Broad said the bill would not preclude a transit zone for the Valley, but that it would simply mean that cost savings must come from somewhere other than workers' wages - like the MTA's top-heavy administration costs.
Valley civic leaders said that if local lawmakers don't push for a compromise before the Assembly Transportation Committee hearing on Monday, the possibility of a transit zone will die. The measure was approved by the Senate in May.
``There is no chance of compromise. We agreed to disagree,'' said Irwin Rosenberg, a co-chairman of VICA's transportation committee and vice president for the Western Area of Laidlaw Transit Services Inc., who has participated in behind-the-scenes negotiations.
``Now it's up to Valley lawmakers,'' he said. ``Are they going to support bus riders and support local control, or are they going to give the house away to labor and let them decide if outside contracting gets to be done or not?''
Conflict of interest?
Broad charged Rosenberg has a conflict of interest because he is employed by Laidlaw, a company that would vie to provide the Valley with service.
Rosenberg denied he has a conflict, saying he can represent both his company and VICA VICA Vocational Industrial Clubs of America
VICA Video Conferencing Alliance (UK)
VICA Vocational Industrial Chapters of America
VICA Vision Counsel of America at the same time.
Assemblyman Tom Torlakson Thomas A. "Tom" Torlakson (born 19 July 1949) is a Democratic politician from Antioch, California. He is currently serving his second and final term in the California State Senate. Torlakson represents the 7th District, which includes most of Contra Costa County. , D-Martinez, chairman of the Assembly Transportation Committee, tried to mediate a compromise at the urging of uneasy Valley politicians stuck in a dilemma between the two ``equally passionate'' groups.
``They are a conflicted group,'' said Torlakson. ``They hope the parties work it out so there will not be this conflict.''
On Monday, opponents of SB 1101 proposed that current MTA employees be allowed to transfer to a Valley transit Valley Transit is a city bus and paratransit commission operated by the city government of Appleton, Wisconsin.
The system operates across the Fox Cities and serves the cities of Appleton, Kaukauna, Menasha and Neenah, as well as the towns of Buchanan, Grand Chute and zone and operate under the provisions of their collective bargaining agreement The contractual agreement between an employer and a Labor Union that governs wages, hours, and working conditions for employees and which can be enforced against both the employer and the union for failure to comply with its terms. through a ``grandfathering'' agreement. New employees would not operate under such an agreement, opening the way for the new district to contract with private firms for some services.
Representatives returned Wednesday for five more hours of meetings but talks broke down over who should be the employer if bus services are contracted out.
Labor leaders want a local transit zone board to be in charge of collective bargaining collective bargaining, in labor relations, procedure whereby an employer or employers agree to discuss the conditions of work by bargaining with representatives of the employees, usually a labor union. while transit officials want contractors to be in charge.
Insiders said the crux of the issue is this: labor would rather deal with a board of local representatives than a transit company.
``It's all about leverage,'' said a source familiar with the issue.
Assemblyman Bob Hertzberg, D-Van Nuys, put it another way, saying that having employees working for a board of elected officials ensures accountability.
Hertzberg and Cardenas, D-Panorama City, are seen as keys because they hold key leadership positions.
While Hertzberg supports a transit zone, he has said little publicly, saying he can be more effective behind the scenes. He supports a compromise to allowing outside management with the transit zone being the employer.
Cardenas would not discuss the issue, but he issued a statement, saying: ``I support (the bill) because it will allow the people of the San Fernando Valley to control and operate a transportation zone in order to improve service to people. This bill will also provide job security for the workers and ensure that they and their families do not lose their pensions.''
Kuehl said the Valley should be expected to abide by To stand to; to adhere; to maintain.
See also: Abide agreements made with workers under collective bargaining so she opposes the compromise.
``If you're a business and you've entered into a number of contracts and then you sell that business, your successor is bound to those contracts - it should be no different with a Valley transit zone,'' Kuehl said.
Knox said Valley civic leaders have been ``sold a bill of goods bill of goods
n. pl. bills of goods
1. A consignment of items for sale.
2. Informal A plan, promise, or offer, especially one that is dishonest or misleading: "The salesman himself . . . . a false choice (between) a transit zone or saving workers' pensions and paychecks. The reality is, we can do both.''
For Scott, ``any compromise would have to provide protections'' for MTA employees, said spokesman Paul Donahue.
Assemblyman Tom McClintock Thomas Miller "Tom" McClintock (born July 10, 1956 in White Plains, New York) is a California State Senator. He ran for Governor of California in the 2003 California recall election of Gray Davis and finished third out of 135 candidates with 13.5% of the overall vote. , R-Granada Hills, who is vice-chairman of the committee, strongly opposes the measure as do other Republicans.
``The MTA is like a gigantic tick that burrows its way into the body politic BODY POLITIC, government, corporations. When applied to the government this phrase signifies the state.
2. As to the persons who compose the body politic, they take collectively the name, of people, or nation; and individually they are citizens, when considered and gorges itself on taxpayer money,'' McClintock said. ``This bill would allow all that waste and corruption to clone itself in the San Fernando Valley.''
CREATING A VALLEY TRANSIT ZONE
Nine cities and Los Angeles Los Angeles (lôs ăn`jələs, lŏs, ăn`jəlēz'), city (1990 pop. 3,485,398), seat of Los Angeles co., S Calif.; inc. 1850. County want to create a San Fernando Valley transportation zone to take over operation of 27 MTA bus lines and improve bus service.
The nine cities are the Valley portion of Los Angeles and the neighboring cities of Agoura Hills, Burbank, Glendale, Calabasas, Hidden Hills, La Canada Flintridge, San Fernando San Fernando, city, Argentina
San Fernando (săn fərnăn`dō), city (1991 pop. 144,761), Buenos Aires prov., E Argentina. It is a district administrative center in the Greater Buenos Aires area. and Westlake Village.
Leaders of the effort expect such a zone will be able to operate more economically than the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, as well as provide the public with buses that are cleaner, more reliable and run on routes that will better meet public desires.
Under their plan, cost savings would come from contracting with a private firm to provide services, and streamlining and simplifying management. Organizers say the lower costs could possibly translate into lower fares or expanded service.
The Los Angeles Department of Transportation has taken a lead role in the effort to establish the proposed Valley zone.
WHERE OUR LOCALPOLITICIANS STAND
Here are the Valley area's Assembly representatives and their positions on SB 1101 which sets up rules in case the Valley takes over MTA bus lines:
Tony Cardenas, D-Panorama City: co-author
Robert M. Hertzberg, D-Van Nuys: supports compromise
Wally Knox, D-Los Angeles: co-author
Sheila Kuehl, D-Encino: co-author
Tom McClintock, R-Granada Hills: opposes
Jack Scott, D-Pasadena: undecided. supports grandfathering clause
Scott Wildman, D-Glendale: co-author
Here are how Valley-area senators voted on SB 1101 when the Senate approved it by a vote of 22-15 on May 27:
Richard Alarcon, D-Van Nuys: yes
Tom Hayden Thomas Emmett "Tom" Hayden (born December 11, 1939) is an American social and political activist and politician, most famous for his involvement in the anti-war and civil rights movements of the 1960s. , D-Los Angeles: not voting
W.J. ``Pete'' Knight, R-Palmdale: no
Adam B. Schiff (born June 20 1960) is an American politician. He first served in the California State Senate. , D-Pasadena: no
Cathie Wright, R-Simi Valley: no
Box: (1) CREATING A VALLEY TRANSIT ZONE (See text)
(2) WHERE OUR LOCAL POLITICIANS STAND (See text)