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LTD board to consider postponing its search for new general manager.

Byline: Matt Cooper The Register-Guard

CORRECTION (ran 1/20/2006): The sixth paragraph in the article on Page C1 about Lane Transit District on Wednesday should have read as follows:

Lane Transit District President Gerry Gaydos hopes to avoid a repeat of last year's contentious labor contract talks, which culminated in a weeklong strike by bus drivers, the first in LTD's 35-year history.

The Lane Transit District may extend the term of its interim general manager in hopes of smoother contract talks with its union next year, the board president said Tuesday.

But key union members are split on the move, leaving the effect of such a decision unclear.

The board will discuss tonight whether to delay starting its search for a new general manager, which means Assistant General Manager Mark Pangborn may serve in the interim post through September and perhaps much longer, board President Gerry Gaydos said Tuesday.

Pangborn will step into the interim position no later than March 3, the last day General Manager Ken Hamm will serve in the district.

Gaydos said he hopes to avoid a repeat of last year's contentious labor contract talks, which culminated in a weeklong strike by bus drivers, the first in LTD's 35-year history.

The district faces several challenges, Gaydos said, including contract talks, the opening of rapid-bus service and a change in maintenance supervisors. Labor talks could begin a year from now on a work contract to replace the one that will expire June 30, 2007.

Rather than thrusting a new general manager into this environment late this year or early in 2007, the board may vote that Pangborn, a 23-year district employee, should stay in the interim role longer, Gaydos said.

But Pangborn's appointment to the interim post last month sparked harsh criticism from some union members. It's yet to be seen whether extending his tenure would heal or hurt the bruised relations between workers and supervisors.

Carol Allred, the union executive representing LTD's 247 workers, said extending Pangborn's tenure could be "a big mistake."

Allred has praised Pangborn but noted a recent petition signed by 70 percent of union workers who wanted former General Manager Phyllis Loobey for the interim job.

Allred didn't sign the petition because union leaders generally oppose trying to tell management how to "run its positions," she said.

But she said the petition clearly indicated that workers didn't want Pangborn in the interim role and, deserved or not, he "does not have the best reputation with union members."

Bus driver Dave Barton, a union member who organized the petition last month, said the petition was a show of support for Loobey, not a rejection of Pangborn. Pangborn can help heal relations by reinstating programs and services that benefit workers and riders, he said.

Pangborn, who makes $114,000 as assistant general manager, said last month he hadn't decided whether to seek the general manager post. He did not return a call Tuesday for comment.

WHAT'S NEXT

Transit board meets at 5:30 tonight at 3500 E. 17th Ave., Glenwood.
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Title Annotation:Transportation
Publication:The Register-Guard (Eugene, OR)
Date:Jan 18, 2006
Words:506
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