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LOCAL News :: Labor & Economics : Transportation

Students, Workers and Community Unite to Support Bus Drivers

Students and Workers Take Protest to Sentinel's Door

Friday, Oct. 7, 2005 - Continuing the hard-fought struggle to support local bus drivers on strike, hundreds of students and workers from UC Santa Cruz, as well as many community members, held a brief rally at the base of the UCSC campus before embarking upon a highly visible and chant-filled march to the downtown Metro Center.

Once at the Metro Center, a rally and speak-out was held to discuss the bus drivers' struggle and the great deal of solidarity between various sectors of the community. After many complaints of the Santa Cruz Sentinel's poor coverage of the strike, the community marched over to the Sentinel's offices to greet the origins of their frusteration.

Friday's action, organized by the Student and Worker Coalition for Justice (SWCJ), has been the strongest show of support in the almost two week-old strike.

Photos: Solidarity Rally at Campus || Solidarity March || March from UCSC to the Metro Center || Community Response to UTU March || Solidarity Rally at Metro Center || Rally at the Metro Center to Support Bus Drivers || Students and Workers Take Protest to Sentinel's Door || March from the Metro Center to the Sentinel

Early last week, students and workers descended on Mike Rotkin's office, leading to his denouncement of the Transit Board's decision that led to the strike. A few days later, a College Republican attempt at an anti-worker rally sank amidst overwhelming UTU solidarity.

Rotkin has called for an emergency Transit Board meeting Tuesday.

see also: Metro Rally Turns Out Well Oct 7, 2005

previous coverage: Students and Workers Teach Republicans a Lesson in Solidarity

One of the march/rally organizers addresses the gathering crowd.

looking down on Bay Street

This homeless man told me that without the buses he has no way to get around.

As the march arrived at the Metro Center, students and workers started packing in close together to hear the speakers.

Maria expressed solidarity and called for an escalation of tactics

Odd which sign this Sentinel reporter choose to carry at the rally...

The Sentinel tried to ignore hundreds of people outside their building calling them on their poor coverage of the bus strike, so people drummed on the glass and demanded acknowledgment


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Re: Students, Workers and Community Unite to Support Bus Drivers

Supercool. Keep it up!

Re: Students, Workers and Community Unite to Support Bus Drivers

the bus drivers should have thought about the displaced before they went on strike to demand more wages and benefits for a job that is nothing more than driving a bus around.

Stupid Bus Strike

This bus strike is getting old. From the 150 + bus drivers who all own vehicles to the metro board members who also own their own vehicles, the only ones getting fucked are people like us who don't have cars. Stranding 23,000 riders is something the board and UTU 23 should have considered before going off into a childish spat.

Re: Students, Workers and Community Unite to Support Bus Drivers

Pounding on doors and having a big crowd doesn't mean you're right.

Bus drivers want more than they're worth. Bus drivers: If you really want the big bucks, you're going to have to start your own business, or possess an unusual talent in a high-paid area, coupled with years of schooling.

But trying to get past a certain income level driving a bus -- it just ain't gonna fly. Even though you have a monopoly and a union, once you get past a certain income and perks level, It gets harder and harder to make advancements solidarity or not, monopoly or no, union or no. That's because the public can sense that good bus drivers or candidates are a dime a dozen and in no way possess an ability rare enough to command the top dollar. And they ain't gonna pony over the dough.

The UTU just doesn't seem to understand that they really don't have anything all that valuable to sell. They only have survived as long as they have because they represent a county-protected monopoly. If they was open rehiring, they'd be laughed out of town. I can't imagine they don't realize this.

The UTU's protective walls may well come crashing in sooner than they think. The public is seeing through all of this. The average person on the street can sense that a bus driver isn't worth huge money, and furthermore resents like hell not getting a ride to his or her job that pays a fraction of what the drivers get.

C'mon, gals and guys, take off the tiaras, and put down the Grey Poupon and get real. Admit this is one battle that was unwise to start.

Re: Students, Workers and Community Unite to Support Bus Drivers

Apparently many do not seem to understand the value that each workers puts in order to contribute to this society. If busses and the workers wher not important than what the hell are you(those who commented above, more specifically) complainig about? By the negative reactions, you seem to admit that the bus drivers are an integral part of you. Each worker should be treated with respect because of the work they do, and not because of the position they hold.

Re: Students, Workers and Community Unite to Support Bus Drivers


I have no idea what you are trying to say. It's gobbledygook. If you can make it clearer, please do so.

Bottom line: SC bus drivers are among the highest-paid in the nation, and they did not do their job.


They left 23,000 people on the curbside, and, somehow, they think they HAVE IT BAD?

Give me a break.

Top-tier pay, no schooling necessary, no investment or apprenticeship required, and STILL, they left 23,000 stranded on the curbside (some in wheelchairs) because they want MORE?!


The only people the UTU can get to march with them in any numbers are college kids who are subsidized by -- you guessed it -- the government (surprise! surprise!) through huge amounts of money paid into the UC system, money to scholarships, and so forth. (I'll leave out of this discussion mommy and daddy's checkbooks.)

Please. What is such a crowd's opinion worth when it comes to economic reality?


Santa Cruz bus drivers...

...receive top-tier pay, compliments of their FELLOW CITIZENS.

...but left the handicapped and the poor stranded ON THE CURBSIDE with essentially NO WARNING.

You tell me what is left to discuss.

Re: Students, Workers and Community Unite to Support Bus Drivers

"The average person on the street can sense that a bus driver isn't worth huge money"

Your false perceptions of the people on the street aside, drivers don't make huge money. They make a decent living because they have a union and they are willing to fight for it. The cuts the Metro Transit Board is demanding for the drivers' healthcare is inexcusable and the cause of this strike.

Additional Documents and Commentary

I found the following recent posts on the Santa Cruz Sentinel blog of interest at:

Originally posted by Lazarus L. on 10-24:


• Parity with other transit employees on medical coverage.

• District payment of its' legally required share of retirement contributions.

• A "capped" cost of living increase in the second and third year.

• A return of our grievance process and other worker protections.

posted October 24:

October 18, 2005

Official Statement of the United Transportation Union Local 23

The United Transportation Union Local 23 is very aware of the terrible, negative impact that the strike is having on the riders and the community as a whole. We very much want to end the strike as soon as possible.

There appears to be a lack of interest by some Board Members to find a way to settle this strike. The Board has the ability to allocate the funds needed to agree to a three year contract. The will of the Board must be to make the necessary decision to allocate the funds required to end this emergency, that is, to end the interruption of transit service to the Public.

In order to secure the Transit system for the public riders and the community, the will of the Board must be committed to do so.

The Union negotiating team has submitted a serious three year contract proposal. We hope that the District and the Board will appreciate the serious and responsive nature of our proposal and act now to resolve this labor dispute. It is time to allow the transit system to be returned to the Community - it is your responsibility to do that.

The Union strongly encourages the Board to accept the PERS retirement proposal that will be brought to you today as it represents a fair compromise to one of our major disputes. However we want the Board to understand that we cannot continue to give up existing benefits in order to pay for increased medical costs and to achieve a fair distribution of retirement contributions. We've already given up Drop-a-day, the Safe Driver bonus, the Baby Bonus, and General Leave. We also have longer working days with no increase in compensation. Giving up more would be going backwards. That is not acceptable. The Board has the fiscal flexibility to settle this contract. We urge you to exercise this flexibility.

We hope that this strike can be ended as soon as possible.

posted October 24:


From: David Lucier
Date: October 21, 2005

To: SCMTD Board of Directors

Subject: Santa Cruz Metropolitan Transit District must desist paying management salaries, during cessation of bus service.

1. CONTRACT: In 1978 the Transit District agreed to enter into a contractual relationship with the citizens of Santa Cruz County to provide bus service in exchange for the imposition of a one half percent transaction tax. The contract was named "Santa Cruz Metropolitan Transit District Tax Measure G."

2. LEGALITY: The agreement to provide bus service was a legal document with signatories. The reason and only official reason put forth to the public by the District was signed by: Assemblyman, Henry Mello; Transit District Board Chairman, Rober Garcia; Board of Directors Member, Jean McNeil, and others. The reason, accompanying the ballots and justifying the tax, was called "Argument in Favor of Measure G." The public signatories were signed ballots of 50,310 voters in Santa Cruz County who approved Measure G. All signatories were of voting age. The document has been considered legal and has been enforced since June 10, 1978. See attachment.

3. WILLING: no entity was forced into the contract.

4. CONSIDERATION: The public agreed to pay one half percent transaction tax, which today amounts to about $ 1.5 million dollars per month. The District agreed to provide improved bus service.

5. BAD FAITH: The Transit District continues to pay managers, after the District provoked a strike by: 1) rescinding a negotiated contract, and 2) going on vacation. When the district pays one set of employees, while withholding pay of another set, the District gives bargaining power to one group of employees and withholds bargaining power from the other set. To reward one set of employees and punish another set is an unfair and unequal treatment and should not be done with money to be used for transit service.

6. GENEROSITY WITH TAXPAYERS' MONEY: The Board of Directors treats the money received from the county transaction tax as a permanent given income to distribute liberally to a preferred set of employees and to withhold from the very employees, the bus drivers, who are necessary to fulfill Measure G's contract obligations. Because of the good relations with drivers and an amicable social environment on buses, voters approved Measure G in 1978, granting millions of dollars to the Transit District. Since then, the Transit Board and the Management forgot the significant participation of Drivers in creating a positive relationship with riders and the public, favorable to the enactment of Measure G. Instead, the Transit District management, with the assistance of the Board has created a nightmare of one way surveillance and control over every behavior, thoughts, and dress of drivers, leaving themselves free from scrutiny and judgement. As drivers go hungry and passengers suffer, management carelessly, negligently, and imperiously, treats drivers with disdain, forcing them, with no alternative, to strike. Meanwhile, management continues to receive bountiful benefits and lavish salaries.

7. FRAUD: To enter into a contract and then to continue to pay hefty salaries to a group of insensitive people, who have made it their objective to degrade other employees, is a fraud committed against the people of Santa Cruz County. Not providing bus service represents a hiatus in the Contract. Paying out salaries, to those who benefit from a lack of service and who use their privileged differential reward as leverage to continue in their bad faith negotiations, is a fraud and theft of taxpayer money, which ruptures the contractual assumptions and obligations of Measure G (1978).

posted by G. Barker on 10-24:

As are the rest of us!
Anyone notice how the spin doctors say how much is subsidized.
Read the figures.
Better than 85% of Metro's income is State and local taxes AND the ridership.
Yee Haw! We are all taxpayers, even the ridership.
Unless you live outside the county you and at least a few of your acquaintances ARE AFFECTED BY THE METRO BOARD'S DECISION TO CAUSE A STRIKE.
The majority of the ridership and the bus drivers are against the strike.
The Metro board of directors voted for a strike IN SECRET against THEIR OWN GENERAL MANAGER'S sign-off on the STATE MEDIATED AGREEMENT, AGAINST the wishes of the drivers and the passengers, and a few board members.
Mayor Rotkin did not say how he voted. Supervisor Stone did.
I challenge those hiding to come out and say which way they are voting and why.
Any decent human being would.
Those who won't obviously don't give a damn about their constituents problems, just their narrow point of view, which can best be interpreted as "Screw the passengers and the bus drivers as well."
Mayor Rotkin, I challenge you to come clean. You said on TV that calling in the Governor would only result in the strike resuming in 60 days after the Governor's review.
I don't believe you, and I am not alone, even if you don't apparently care how much this strike has impacted the ridership.
The Governor would at least get us riders through the holidays while forcing those stubborn board members to actually mediate.
Don't leave all of us hitching through the rain for a few selfish board member's will.
Mike, make them come clean.
Even if you call in the Governor tomorrow, it will be two weeks until the Governor's people finish their review, make recommendations, and call the drivers back to work for 60 days.
Be strong and do it

My Free Radio Santa Cruz show (archived at has numerous interviews with supporters and critics of the strike as well as my commentary. Not yet indexed, the shows need to be "sklpped through" to find the relevant sections.

More will be forthcoming Thursdays evenings 6-8 PM and Sundays 9:30 AM - 1 PM at 101.1 FM and

Re: Students, Workers and Community Unite to Support Bus Drivers

Yadda, yadda, yadda.

$50k a year. 23,000 people, some cripples, LITERALLY left on the curb with no warning. No prolonged training or investment required. Government-sponsored monopoly.

What is there left to discuss?

And the REAL hot piece of info: The dark secret of why the drivers just HAD to have a month off is because substance abuse treatment programs are a MONTH LONG.

Fantasy advertisement:

The UTU: Drugged whiners sucking at the governmenrts's breast...for you.

Robert Norse: The more gobbeldygook you have to put up, the more your viewpoint is likely BS.

Robert Norse, you are full of it.

This post amy be taken down, but I am absolutely not going to forget what the UTU had done.


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