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Santa Cruz Bus Drivers on Strike, Students in Solidarity

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On September 8th United Transportation Union (UTU) Local 23 signed a state-mediated agreement with the Santa Cruz Transit District’s negotiating team to ensure there was no disruption in service to the Metro’s 23,000 customers. The drivers, knowing that a strike would mean working-class members of the community as well as students would be without transportation, decided to work under the Metro Board’s rules until June 30, 2006, allowing plenty of time to work out negotiations over a new contract. The deal was no strike, no lockout.

On September 23rd UTU members were shocked to hear that the Metro Board had voted to renege on their side of the agreement and that all worker protections had been removed. The state-mediator said that in all of his years overseeing contact negotiations, he had never seen a public sector employer turn down a state-mediated agreement. Under these conditions, the drivers were forced to call an indefinite strike on September 26.

This is an unfair labor practices strike and is not about wages. It’s about dignity and respect. The drivers are not asking for a raise, they simply want to keep what they have. They want to keep their benefits, which were immediately revoked when the Metro Board threw out the no-strike agreement. One main issue on the table is a system of general leave, where senior drivers would be permitted to take a month-long unpaid vacation once a year that would actually save the district money. The Board refuses to budge.

previous coverage: Students, Workers and Community Unite to Support Bus Drivers || Students and Workers Teach Republicans a Lesson in Solidarity || Santa Cruz Bus Drivers on Strike
 

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