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Bus strike and student solidarity

Santa Cruz Bus Drivers on Strike, Students in Solidarity

By David Zlutnick, UC Santa Cruz Student and Worker Coalition for Justice

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.

The union wants to sign a three-year contract and that’s a big problem for the Transit District. They desperately want to break this union, which is one of the strongest in the country, especially Local 23. By signing the drivers to one-year contracts the constant negotiations can tire a union and break its solidarity. One driver pointed out that Local 23 has been having strikes regularly since 1970 in response to bad faith negotiations on behalf of the Metro Board, and they haven’t lost yet. “They’re good karma,? he says.

The drivers want to get back to work. They don’t like leaving their passengers stranded. Some have even been giving passengers rides in their personal vehicles in order to ease the community’s hardships due to the strike. The UTU has sent a proposal for a three-year contract to the Metro Board and is more than willing to have negotiations while on strike. The Board’s response had been that there would be no negotiations until the drivers got back to work. They finally caved on the 15th of October and negotiations started once again, although as of yet no agreement has been reached. The UTU said it won’t end the strike until it gets a three-year contract. They tried trusting the Metro Board and were stabbed in the back. That won’t happen again.

We in the Student and Worker Coalition for Justice (SWCJ) have done everything we can to put pressure on the Metro Board to end the strike and give the drivers a fair contact. We started by confronting the city’s mayor, Mike Rotkin, who sits on the Metro Board and is also a lecturer at UCSC. We stormed his office with around 50 people as well as local media to demand answers as to why the Board revoked the state-mediated agreement. This resulted in him giving his first public statement saying that the Board made a mistake and never should have gone against the arrangement.

A few days later a march was organized that started at UCSC and proceeded to the downtown Metro station. Over 200 students and workers took to the streets, escorted by bus drivers in cars and on motorcycles. A large rally and speak-out was held at the picket line where an impromptu march began to the Santa Cruz Sentinel, the local newspaper, which had been giving the drivers horrible coverage and had been printing outright lies about the details of the labor dispute. The march ended after it returned to the Metro station with grateful bus drivers giving rides to students who needed to get back to campus.

We in SWCJ recognize that the 5,500 UCSC students who depend on the bus service to get to school are angry they now have to find alternate means of transportation, but it is our job to make sure that anger is channeled in the right direction—to the Metro Board and not the bus drivers. The UTU members have driven us to school everyday, and can’t wait to do so again. I will gladly ride my bike up that fucking hill everyday until the workers get the contract they deserve. Solidarity forever.
 
 


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Re: Bus strike and student solidarity

Well put. Thank you.
 

Re: Bus strike and student solidarity

it's nice you have the option of riding your bike up that fucking hill everyday till they get their contract. what about the people who can't afford to buy a bike to ride the 12 miles to work?

in a place like santa cruz, where liberal is the popular stance, it seems no one is willing to question the motives of this strike. at this point it is beyond all of us why the board has chosen to make the decisions it has. but still, why did it come to this?

no one forced the drivers to go on strike. no one could have physically forced them to. they made a selfish decision. it seems as if they are oblivious to the state of this nation. many of the workers and students they drive do not even have the option of insurance through their jobs. they don't have jobs which make even 20 grand a year, and still have to support a family.

and with the lack of metro facilities to provide maintenance, the city is wasting money not fixing these vehicles regularly which can only add to the pollution this area tries so hard to rid itself of.

tell the bus drivers to get back to work. tell them to take one for the team. show their community they'll wait get what they need while providing the service that we all need and appreciate.
 

Re: Bus strike and student solidarity

That is one of the best-crafted jobs of fact-twisting and selective omission that I have run across during this strike.

It's above the usual writing standards of the UTU. It appears to not have been written by a member of UTU. This wouldn't surprise me. The UTU generally doesn't write very well.

This very much seems written by a UCSC student who is going through that nearly de rigueur Banana Slug rite-of-passage, which is to get involved in some working class vs. evil big government struggle and get some flashy publicity (such as getting arrested at Lockheed). It's sort of like frats doing panty raids in decades gone past; it's sort of initiation phase UCSC students go through, to join the Venerable Loyal Order the Hippies, Chapter 239.

When/if I get some time, maybe I'll pick apart this post that so skillfully misses the forest for the trees.

For now, suffice to say that this saying comes to mind:

"People are so skillful in their ignorance" -- Paramahansa Yogananda.

*************************

Understand this: The METRO board is not made up of a bunch of boogie/men and women. They receive way less than the drivers receive when compared to the national averages for their respective positions. They are not playing tricks; they are not playing shell games; they are not conniving, regardless of how much the UTU wishes it were so. They really don't have a lot of money. Honest. I have met some of them.

Wouldn't it be a lot more fun and feel a lot more righteously noble to be facing down a genuinely evil governmental empire? Oh, how everyone would admire you for being the brave hippie warrior!

Sadly, alas, the METRO is not the evil governmental empire that you seek. You'll have to look elsewhere. The METRO is not sitting on glaciers of excess money. The METRO is a decidedly unglamorous financially troubled local entity made of ordinary citizens. You've picked the wrong target to use as a foil for becoming a sword-wielding leader of the downtrodden. Go to Lockheed or Nicaragua if you want to feel like a leftist soldier.

**********************

Let's get this very straight, once and for all:

The UTU was IN NO WAY forced to strike (Eyes rolling, hiding a smile!)

Get real!

Forced to strike! No way, baby. CHOSE to strike.

Repeat: CHOSE to strike.

*************************
"Will Strike if Provoked"
*************************

The height of the UTU's being out of touch is that ridiculously antagonistic UTU T-shirt that says "Will strike if provoked" and shows a cobra ready to strike.

What a joke! PROVOKED?! $50k year, $70k with overtime; better pay than NYC drivers; gold-plated perks package; all while the Metro is losing money; all while the county is in a financial crisis; even though there has been raise after raise over the last many years for UTU drivers; even though routes and been cut and fares increased to those LEAST ABLE TO AFFORD IT -- and the UTU is feels PROVOKED?!

Absolutely slapstick! Half of me wants to double over laughing -- except that half of me is sick to my stomach. I am not making this up!

Get a clue, UTU! You guys and gals are so out of touch, it's SCARY. It's entirely your right to be out of touch -- until you leave the minimum wage earners and handicapped on the curb. At that point, I make it my business. And it IS my business, as I am shuttling a number of bus-dependent people to work.

*******************
More ridiculousness
*******************

SC bus drivers get paid way more than fellow bus drivers in cities of the about size of Santa Cruz (About $3/hour higher). And, SC drivers get the fourth highest pay in the nation.

Wait, it gets better. The UTU enjoys the fantastic perks of:

No apprenticeship! No schooling to speak of! No investment required! No competition because the UTU is a monopoly and a union.


*********************

Hey, UTU:

You talk about being of the people, yet you are monopoly and a VERY steel-fisted union. You are in no way "of the people." You get paid way more than the typical worker scraping to get by. If you were of the people, and there was open hiring, you drivers would be be DEAD IN THE WATER, and you know it. You'd never be able to compete. There would be hundreds of better-qualified drivers that would gladly take your jobs for less pay and fewer perks. The pool of long-distance truckers is just one source of better-qualified replacements.

If the UTU is so much for the people, why don't you put an e-mail link on their webpage? The METRO board has easily accessible e-mail links. Who is it that is hiding something? Who is it that has somehting to fear? What's the problem, UTU: Don't want to hear what the people have to say? It's hard to keep your heads in the sand if you hear what people have to say.

**********************
Disrespected?
Huh...?
**********************

Despite having all the remuneration mentioned above, despite having a gold-plated benefits package that nearly ALL the bus passengers would LOVE to have, the UTU chooses to interpret having all of the above as DISRESPECT?!

WOW!

Bizarre.

The drivers felt SO DISRESPECTED that they left THOUSANDS of riders WITH NO WARNING, ON THE CURB, many of them IN WHEELCHAIRS.

Yes, they did. They did exactly that. Handicappers and minimum wage workers were left ON THE CURB and IN WHEELCHAIRS. This really happened.

Now, THAT'S disrespect.

No one forced the UTU to do this, except for perhaps their own egos. The drivers CHOSE to do this because $50k a year, $70k with overtime, and great benefits WASN'T ENOUGH.

UTU, you, and you alone, CHOSE to turn down a great offer. YOU have chosen to cause hardship to 23,000 passengers because $50k and fantastic overtime opportunities and great benefits, and one of the best retirement packages (PERS) is NOT ENOUGH for you. You SOLD OUT the poor and handicapped because you CHOSE (CHOSE!) to feel disrespected and chose to want yet MORE, way more than your ridership earns.

The only provoking and massive disrespecting came from the UTU.

*******************
Paper Tiger Rallies
*******************

The UTU put together a rally with students who are massively subsidized by the State of California (by going to UCSC). To build a psuedo-sense of solidarity, the UTU gathered around them a crowd composed largely of government-subsidized near-children. These students, who are in many cases kept afloat by mommy and daddy's checkbooks and by scholarships and citizen-provided financial aid, have little-to-no credibility with regards to soberly evaluating economic issues. These are not people with a mature grip on economic reality. This is not to "dis" them; it is just a fact that one will seldom see an 18-22 year-old college kid with a good grip on how money works.

The UTU couldn't get in any appreciable numbers REAL WAGE EARNERS who work REAL JOBS that aren't government subsidized to show up to back them. All they could get were people who slop at the public trough, like the UTU.

*******************
WE HAVE SOLIDARITY!
*******************

Few care about your solidarity. In fact, UTU, you shouldn't care about solidarity, either, if you know what's good for you. A lot of good solidarity is doing your drivers as they slowly wither away financially receiving $600 a week from their strike fund - because THEY CHOSE (and no one else) to strike.

Just love that solidarity. It's really doing a lot for you.

***************************
UTU, there is a solution...
***************************

C'mon, UTU, just own up to the fact that this strike was a big mistake, and slip back behind the wheel of one of the cushiest and best-paid jobs most of you could ever hope for. Thank the taxpayers for valuing so much that they pay you better than NYC bus driver. They really DO VALUE YOU, to the point that they are paying you more money, and way better retirement benefits than they, themselves, receive, in many cases.

If you think that is disrespect, I fear that their may be no hope for you. Certainly, if you persist in calling your incredible pay for unskilled monopolized labor "disrespect" I doubt there will ever be much sympathy for you.

**************
A closing tip:
**************

If this job is really so horrible, and you feel so disrespected, why not get another job?

Repeat: Why not get another job? C'mon , now answer the question. Why not?

Why sit there and suffer and be disrespected by the mean evil METRO?

Why not go to school? Why not start a business? Why not get a different life?

********************
Could it be that...?
********************

Could it be that many of you have become too set in your ways, and maybe, er, lazy...? Could it be that you've become too cozy in your very-well-paid job?

Be honest, now.
 

Re: Bus strike and student solidarity

Worker, if everyone takes one for the team then eventually we'll all get fucked over.

To say that the bus drivers is being selfish is ludicrous. They are looking out to take care of themselves. Do you even know what the issues are surrounding this? Of course, no one makes anyone do anything, so yes, it is a choice they made and personally I think it was a good one. If the board is going to continue to be assholes to them then they have NO OTHER CHOICE! Also, just because some other students and workers don't get insurance from their jobs doesn't mean the bus drivers shouldn't. To say that is fucked up AND stupid, I'm sorry. The situation of other people at their jobs has no bearing on the situation with the bus drivers and I AM one of those students who doesn't get insurance through her job.

Really, rethink some of the things you are saying because for the most part you sound like you're being the selfish one as well as irrational.
 

Re: Bus strike and student solidarity

Thanks. This is great David. I think a lot of students think this strike is about wages, which is not the case. You're right David, students' anger needs to be channeled towards the Metro Board because they are the ones who took back their side of the agreement, which would have not interrupted service for the 23,000 SC Metro riders. They had no other choice but to strike when the board reniged on the no strike, no lockout and no takeaways agreement. Besides that, the bus drivers have always supported other strikes on campus and that is one reason as to why I am in support of their strike as well as the fact that they have driven me to campus for the past year and a half. Thanks bus drivers and thank you to the students who are striving to stay in solidarity with the drivers.
 

Re: Bus strike and student solidarity

While the strike may not specifically be about negotiating wages, the strike is, nonetheless, very much about money.

The money can be pushed around and labled different things, and can be called "not wages," but ultimately, the strike is about there being a finite pot of money, and about the UTU trying to get more than a finite pot of money through avenues other than increased wages.

For example, the UTU has lately been trying to exceed the finite pot of money's capacity by gunning for increased CalPers benefits.

Earlier, they were trying to exceed the finite pot of money's capacity by insisting that month-long leaves of absence with full medical benefits be retained, while at the same time asking for more liberal medical contributions.

The list goes on.

But ultimately, there is a limit to the money, and the UTU simply refuses to accept this when it is laid out in black and white. Their demands "morph" when it becomes obvious that it is not fiscally possible to fulfill their demands. They label the laying out of fical reality in black-and-white terms "throwing a moneky wrench in the works."

A person very close to the negotiations that I communicated with directly said that the UTU is very difficult to negotiate with because they are "a moving target."

I absolutely assure you, regardless of what the UTU may say, it IS about money. Ironically, even though the strike is very much about money, the strikers have become so stubborn and intransigent that they are actually LOSING money in their pursuit of more money. So, in that sense, the strike is not about money, but about dogged blind ego.

Ultimately, however, it seems very much the case that the only thing will satisfy the UTU is a contract giving them MORE money, in some way shape or form, even if they lose money during the strike to get it. That appears the only way they will be satisfied. It reminds me a little of that phrase wbout carpet bombing in the Vietnam War: They had to destroy the village to save it. That seems a little bit like what the UTU is doing. They will bomb their own savings accounts into oblivion, and drive the Metro further into debt, make a few short-term ego-satisfying benefits.

The UTU may say the strike is about respect and pride, but my read is that it is simply about being bizarrely bullheaded for no good reason. It is about blind stubborness in the face of clear financial facts. The UTU seems to be hard-wired to fight, and that is that.

Say it isn't about wages, if you please; but do not make the error of thinking that it is not about money. It is very much about money.
 

Re: Bus strike and student solidarity

The Metro board should be applauded for its integrity in refusing to ratify an agreement that would have run the grave danger of being fiscally irresponsible in the long run.

It should be noted that the Metro board was under no obligation to accept the state-mediated agreement. And they chose not to accept the agreement. That was their legitimate option.

It has been said that courage is doing what you think is right, even though it is scary.

The Metro Board did what they thought was right, even in the face of an all-but-inevitable tsunami of misunderstanding.

This brings to mind a saying that doesn't perfectly apply here, but is nonetheless somewhat relevant.

First a little background: Gandhi's followers were all set to have him lead some kind of big protest march. All the preparations were made, and crowds were assembled, and the fever was high.

At the last minute, however, Gandhi could see that the premise for the decision to have a protest march was flawed, so he canceled it.

Of course, many people were not at all happy. They cast aspersions on Gandhi's integrity.

Gandhi, however, commented, "My commitment is to truth, not consistency."

This reminds me a bit of the Metro Board not going along with the state-mediated agreement. Every indication was that their commitment was to truth, not consistency.

They could not in good conscience ratify an agreement that seemed quite likely to cause troubles down the road.

They were courageous leaders, doing what good leaders sometimes have to do, which is to make a lonely decision in the face of widespread public misunderstand and antagonism. As in the case of Gandhi, aspersions aplenty have been cast upon their integrity.

I am glad they made what they considered to be the right, not just convenient, decision.
 

Re: Bus strike and student solidarity

youre right, im not part of the UTU. im a student who has taken time to look at the issues and think for myself and come to the conclusion that the metro board is totally fucked. i dont have time to write too much in response to all these comments and adress specificities because on top of being a full time student i have a job. i am also a worker who doesnt get any kind of benefits and doesnt have a ride to work. and i know that if i ever want any perks working a service job that i am going to have to fight to get them. and i know the bus drivers will have my back when that day comes, just like they have done when AFSCME, CUE, and UPTE went out on strike last spring. thats what solidarity is all about. an injury to one is an injury to all. it seems like there are a lot of people who talk about being in solidarity with the working class until it directly affects them. its easy to support workers striking on our campus when it means that all we have to do is not go to class. its quite another thing to have to get your ass up to ucsc everyday without buses and still be behind the drivers. if youre not just an asshole who thinks strikes are stupid, i beg you to please go down to the picket line and have a talk with the drivers and get the facts about whats going on and take another look at your position. and in response to the fact that theyre getting $600 a month from their strike fund... YOU TRY LIVING ON $600 A MONTH IN SANTA CRUZ!!! even as a student thats fucking hard, but to support a family? it is a sacrafice! one that they are willing to make, because these issues are obviously important enough to strike over.
 

Re: Bus strike and student solidarity

I've personally been somewhat split on the issue.

Why is it that the drivers just didn't impose a strike in regards to collecting bus fare? If they continued to drive without collecting fare, the community wouldn't have been affected yet the Metro Board would have been pressured into coming up with a contract agreement. Can someone explain to me why this wasn't an option?
 

Re: Bus strike and student solidarity

"If they continued to drive without collecting fare, the community wouldn't have been affected yet the Metro Board would have been pressured into coming up with a contract agreement."

I was not in on the decision making process and I do not know if this option was discussed, but I will say that such an option has the advantage of actually costing the Metro money and the disadvantage of putting the drivers at risk of disciplinary measures.
 

Re: Bus strike and student solidarity

fatemah - to take one for the team, we'll all get fucked over? no, we become a community where everyone is taken care of, and is on the same level financially and otherwise. to be a true community everyone gets to eat, have shelter, and so on.

stupid and fucked up? neither of those i said.

for people who supposedly care so much for their passengers, it is ridiculous to have them strike and say it's not for money. and to say they really care. they didn't seem to care their riders couldn't get to work and risked losing their job for not showing up. or some students may lose credits they were working towards because they couldn't make it to class.

but it seems as if the dose of reality written above sums it up.

santa cruz residents and many of the students attending school here need to leave this pleasant society to get a dose of the real world. once all the children are eating can we be responsible for paying obese drivers a large wage to feed their gluttony.
 

Re: Bus strike and student solidarity

about a fare strike- the thing is that since the drivers would not have been working under a contract, allowing passengers on without paying their fare would be grounds for dismissal, an easy way to clear out strong union members
 

Re: Bus strike and student solidarity

I don't see why the Metro doesn't just hire non-union workers away from other areas, the pay is quite generous for the job they do, and I'm sure there are plenty of bus drivers who would be happy to do it for 55k a year plus benefits!
 

Re: Bus strike and student solidarity

benefits! exactly! thats why they're striking!!! for benefits. if the workers lose their fight then those benefits won't be there, n5667!
 

Re: Bus strike and student solidarity

What benefits did METRO want to cut that caused the bus drivers to strike?
 

Re: Bus strike and student solidarity

Why is nobody blaming mayor Rotkin for not getting involved to solve this? I'm not voting for that turd cause he's sitting on his but on the issue as far as I'm concerned. Screw Rotkin. I will not stand for apathy from elected leaders. Elected officials should be foaming at the mouth to get this issue resolved.
 

Re: Bus strike and student solidarity

Rotkin is worse than useless, as a member of the Metro Transit Board he has spoken out against the union for standing up and protecting their right to healthcare and their right to a union. And as I pointed out when I ran for City Council, Rotkin has scabbed against drivers on strike in the past.

As for "n5667" down in Santa Barbara asking, "What benefits did METRO want to cut that caused the bus drivers to strike?" I suggest that you check out what is going on here in Santa Cruz before you start making anti-union comments like the one you did previous to that, but once again the strike is over the right to healthcare benefits.
 

Re: Bus strike and student solidarity

n5667 was born in Santa Cruz and lived there until last year, and will most likely move back in 2 years...

As for what I've read, no benefits would be cut, and their healthcare premiums would actually decrease - so perhaps you could show me what benefits the METRO (a not for profit entity with a deficit) was trying to cut?
 

Re: Bus strike and student solidarity

It wasn't necessarily an anti-union statement, I just don't think that unions are always on the right side of an issue.
 

Re: Bus strike and student solidarity

"n5667", The Metro Transit Board is demanding cuts to heathcare benefits.
 

Re: Bus strike and student solidarity

n5667.

I'll save you some time.

Here's my read on Steven Argue's agenda.

Steven Argue's whole trip is based on dwelling on the thought that government and rich people are thoroughly corrupt and or spend money frivolusly and selfishly at the cost of the worker.

Therefore, Steven thinks, ANY union money-grabbing is justified because it is part of a greater workers' rebellion aginst the rotten elite.

His thinking is very black and white.

Steven has no problem NOT conceding the validity of any cogent argument against the UTU because he thinks no matter what the UTU does to get more money, it is justified. He has no problem with the issue that by having the bus system not running, the ENTIRE community is affected. In his mind, it is all justified because the bourgeosie is completely evil.

You will notice that he will NEVER concede any point, no matter how clear, if it menas admitting that the UTU is in any way shape or form, wrong. (However, just because I wrote that last sentence, it wouldn't surprise me that he may concede a small point, just to show how he really ISN'T completely inflexible.)

In a way, he's like how many see George Bush. Many see George Bush as someone who wants to bring down a corrupt social organism (malignant Islam) and has no problem drawing in involuntarily, directly and indirectly, the entire citizenry of the US in the service of his cause.

Similarly, Steven Argue is someone who wants to brign down what he sees to be a corrupt social organism (malignant elistist well-moneyed people) and has no problem drawing in involuntarily, directly and indirectly, the entire citizenry of Santa Cruz in the service of his cause.

It really goes against my grain to be so blunt and possibly even rude in this post, but I really see no alternative. The bluntness and rudeness of leaving 23,000 riders stranded over a few kopecks in the service of some hazy fanatical cause is so "in your face" that I see no other choice.
 

Re: Bus strike and student solidarity

"n5667", The Metro Transit Board is demanding cuts to heathcare benefits."

www.scmtd.com/UTUltr092605.pdf
Hey, it'd also be cutting costs drastically, what healthcare benefits would be getting cut, eactly?
 

Re: Bus strike and student solidarity

Crowd protests at Metro director's home
By GENEVIEVE BOOKWALTER
sENTINEL STAFF WRITER
About 50 union workers from around the area converged on the Encinal Street transit district offices Monday morning for a "militant" picket line to discourage workers belonging to another union from reporting to work.

But Metro General Manager Les White said the protest paled in comparison to one Sunday evening at board member Dene Bustichi's Scotts Valley home. According to police reports, up to 50 people chanted, banged drums and set off firecrackers to protest the bus drivers' strike, in its 29th day today.

"About 9:30 I got a knock on the door; I was actually asleep. The whole family was asleep," Bustichi said Monday. "Two girls at the door handed me some information and said they wanted to talk about the bus strike. I said, 'It's 9:30 at night and I'm standing here in my boxers and I'm going to go back to bed.'"

What Bustichi didn't realize, he said, was that more than 30 students and other protesters were in front of his house. After he shut the door, he said, they yelled, chanted, grabbed things out of his yard, beat on his trailer and took sheet metal from a neighbor's yard.

His children, ages 5 and 12, were so frightened they slept in the same room for the rest of the night, he said.

"The feeling of safety in my house that my children and wife felt is gone right now," an angry Bustichi said.

READ THE FULL ARTICLE IN SC-IMC's OTHERPRESS:
santacruz.indymedia.org/mod/otherpress/display/646/index.php
 

Re: Bus strike and student solidarity

Oh that's nice. Go to a private residence with your protests. Way to go! Got eveyones attention now didn't you. Apparently they don't play that way in S.V. Guess S.V. neighborhoods have solidarity too!!
 

Re: Bus strike and student solidarity

The workers have already given up Drop-a-day, the Safe Driver bonus, the Baby Bonus, and General Leave as part of the trade-off for healthcare costs. They have also been working longer days with no increase in compensation. As the union states, “Giving up more would be going backwards.?

The Metro Transit Board has demanding even more to be taken away in order to maintain healthcare. The implied threat has been to cut other benefits if healthcare is not cut. The workers are rejecting both routes at this point.

Instead of accepting such tradeoffs in their right to healthcare, UTU workers are demanding parity in their healthcare with other UTU employees, including management. This is the right thing to do.

The Metro Transit Board for their part have refused to bargain in good faith to produce a contract. No contract, or even any real attampts by the Metro to negotiate one, puts the workers in the position of needing to strike in order to maintain their union.

The self-proclaimed, but nowhere else recognized, riders union "leader" R. Paul Marcelin-Sampson is spewing anti-bus driver poison in Santa Cruz.

A true riders union would unite with the workers and fight for better funding and for better services. As a bus rider I am offended to have someone like Sampson pretends to be speaking for me.

The workers are fighting against cuts to their healthcare and other benefits. This is a worthy struggle that all working people should support. We are always stronger by sticking together against the government and corporations in labor disputes rather than fighting over the crumbs that fall from the table of exploitation where rich people feast.

The reality is that the U.S. government is cutting social services and healthcare rights and other benefits for workers everywhere while spending billions of dollars on war. It is the duty of unions to fight back. If we don’t we will loose everything.

The anonymous poster thinks that this is a problem limited to the Metro’s budget as is it stands under the control of some local useless functionaries that have never been friendly to workers or riders. You’d do better not to believe in the way the capitalists have divided the system up into little cantons in order to deny working people the social services and rights we deserve. It is a classic game of good cop bad cop. I don't buy it, and you shouldn't either.

The Democrats and Republicans and their capitalist masters could easily pay for the people's demands if they stop spending all of our money on war, police, bourgeois decadence, and prisons.

U.S. Out Of Iraq, Afghanistan, Colombia, and the Phillipines!

For the preservation of healthcare and other benefits without cuts! Extend current benefits to all people through single payer health care!

For the lowering of bus fares and an increase in services!

Victory to the Bus Driver’s Union!

Sincerely, Steven Argue for Liberation News
lists.riseup.net/www/info/liberation_news

*********
Steve--

As a Metro bus driver myself, here in Seattle Washington, and also a transit union activist, I thank you for your defense of bus drivers and riders. It is disturbing to see a person use the mantle of a bus riders union to undermine the bus driver’s demands. I've followed other bus rider unions in other cities and they do typically support drivers because they understand we are all in this together. I'd add redirect the Pentagon's budget to expanded mass transit - and yes, affordable or free. And tax the profits of the wealthy corporations to also expand public mass transit. What with global warming it is clear that we need a dramatic shift away from our single-occupancy-vehicle focused system. Moreover, as we saw in New Orleans, many people, especially the poor, don't have cars. And why should those who can't afford cars be condemned to riding a second-class system.

Thanks again for your words of support for the bus drivers.

In solidarity
Linda Averill
 

Re: Bus strike and student solidarity

I have learned to instantly ingnore anything steven argue write or says because it is invariably one-sided. He has shown himeself to be completely untrustworthy in bringing a balanced view to this discussion.

fourth-highest pay in the nation. 23000 bus drivers stranded. end of discussion
 

Re: Bus strike and student solidarity

it's the same old 50 students coming out for a thrill. it's the ony people the UTU can get to back them up. real workers wouldn't be caught dead.

a bunch of wet behind the ears kids living off their parents. wow, what credibility.

the utu should stop whimpering and get back to work.
 

Re: Bus strike and student solidarity

The Santa Cruz Bus Drivers are not nearly the fourth highest paid drivers in the country. This idea that they are the fourth highest is a lie spread by the Sentinel that doesn't take into account the obvious fact that this also one of the least affordable places in the nation to live.

But pay is not the issue.

This strike was not caused by the drivers, it has been caused by the Metro Board’s failure to negotiate in good faith.
 

Re: Bus strike and student solidarity

I read what Steven writes and prefer it to the rants of scabs that hate students and hate union workers for winning good contracts.
 

Re: Bus strike and student solidarity

as indicated earlier, regardless of what point is made, if it is valid and against the utu, steven will argue it
 

Re: Bus strike and student solidarity

Critique of Steven's post

**********

Excerpt from Steven's post:

"The Santa Cruz Bus Drivers are not nearly the fourth highest paid drivers in the country. This idea that they are the fourth highest is a lie spread by the Sentinel..."

Suggested re-working: "Lie" is considered by many to be a very strong word. Consider substantiating your use of the word "lie." Perhaps the Sentinel printed merely a sincerely misguided inaccuracy, and not a lie. Suggest showing more clearly that the Sentinel, in fact, lied. Doing so may well increase support for your argument.

Also suggest that you consider the possibility that you may run the risk of legal action for libel by using the word "lie." Not sure about this, but it is something to consider.

Also suggest considering that using the word "lie" may make you seem to many readers to be hotheaded fanatic, though you may well not intend to come across this way. It may be more persuasive to use a more moderate tone. Suggest considering this.

Steven's post, continued:

"...that doesn't take into account the obvious fact that this also one of the least affordable places in the nation to live."

Critique:

Thsi is a promising tack. Your point might be more strongly made if you got a table of bus driver pay packages vs. cost of living in various locales. Perhaps you can obtain this online, somewhere.

Without information along those lines, your argument is perhaps not as strong as it might be. To name one example of how your argument may be perceived as having weakness:

New York City bus drivers are paid less than Santa Cruz bus drivers. Rents in NYC are nonetheless often are greater than rents in Santa Cruz. Suggest addressing arguments such as this one in order to lend greater force to your assertions.

Some readers might also feel that the SC bus drivers are not overpaid, but are nonetheless paid COMMENSURATE with the cost-of-living in SC. If you want your readers to feel as if the bus drivers are not paid ENOUGH for the Santa Cruz area, suggest you provide information supporting that contention. The goal of course is to persuade the reader that SC bus drivers are not paid enough.

Steven's post continues:

"But pay is not the issue.

This strike was not caused by the drivers, it has been caused by the Metro Board’s failure to negotiate in good faith."

Critique:

Many may see this argument as being insufficiently substantiated. Many readers may wonder why the drivers just don't go back to work for their FORMER PAY, if pay is not the issue. They may be perceiving the UTU to be dickering ardently for vaious increases in compensation. Suggest a more detailed argument that the UTU is not making an issue about financial compensation.

Also, many readers will ask, "What exactly does 'good faith' mean?" Suggest that you spell out what "good faith" means. Doing so may well increase support for your points. Your goal is to show that the Metro caused the strike; many readers will likely want to understand very clearly and specifically why this is the case. Show them those specifics, and you may well gain increased support for your theses.

****************

Good luck. You convey fire and sincerity. Your points may well gain greater support by considering the suggestions provided above.
 

Re: Bus strike and student solidarity

I'm poor, pay high rent because of UCSC student overflow, work in Santa Cruz for wages depressed by UCSC overflow, don't have a car, and depend on bus service. I support the strike. I also resent the well fed, car driving, obnoxious ranters that try to shout down liberty.
 

Re: Bus strike and student solidarity

"I'm poor, pay high rent because of UCSC student overflow, work in Santa Cruz for wages depressed by UCSC overflow, don't have a car, and depend on bus service. I support the strike. I also resent the well fed, car driving, obnoxious ranters that try to shout down liberty."

Quick question, does the high cost of living in Santa Cruz result in higher than average income for the Metro?

I'm wondering, because the Metro would have to draw on more money from the constituents to pay for these bus drivers... Taking from the poor to give to the already well renumerated? Doesn't sound fair to me!

As for the high rent, people choose to live here, and also choose not to develop. Regardless of whether or not one is a capitalist pig dog or commie scum, the fact remains that Santa Cruz has chosen to reject new development despite population growth (and with UC's expansion plan that's going to get ever more painful).
 

Re: Bus strike and student solidarity

"Schoolteacher", your points are well taken, but I do not have the time to spell out and prove every point. I have laid out the facts; to some degree I expect others to do their own homework. Between my schoolwork and my job I do not have a huge amount of time to visit this site and defend my union brothers and sisters as well as myself. My writing here earlier today was meant to be quick responses to those attacks at a time when I had other things I needed to do, but they were also careful on the facts.

Tonight I do not have much time either, but I’ll answer four of your questions.

(1) On New York, both cities, Santa Cruz and New York, are extremely expensive and New York drivers are apparently underpaid. Neither city is typical and both have fallen under the category of most expensive place to live in the nation in recent publications.

(2) The Sentinel has shown extreme anti-union bias in their coverage of the strike and other union issues. The purposeful omission of the cost of living in Santa Cruz when referring to the pay of Santa Cruz drivers is one of many omissions, distortions and lies. Another example would be an article on Saturday, October 1st, entitled "Metro Drivers Reject Proposal." Yet the drivers were not given any proposal to reject. This headline did its job in placing blame for the strike on the workers rather than on the Metro Transit Board. In fact it was the Metro Transit Board that rejected the no strike agreement that had been agreed to by the worker and Transit Board representatives.

I don't play games with words, I have been watching the Sentinel long enough to see their bias and I feel secure in calling their misrepresentations of the facts lies.

(3) As for your suggestion that workers go back to work with old pay without a union contract and without the Metro Board even negotiating in good faith, that would be a step towards ending the union representation that has benefited the UTU METRO workers so well.

(4) Bargaining in good faith means doing things the Metro Transit Board has not been doing like sending representatives to bargain that actually are in position to bargain, and not going on vacation at such a critical juncture in negotiations as the beginning of the strike.

Some progress by the Metro Transit Board towards trying negotiate a contract after rejecting the one that UTU representatives had agreed to would be one indication of good faith negotiations. This is also sadly lacking.
 

Re: Bus strike and student solidarity

Quick question, does the high cost of living in Santa Cruz result in higher than average income for the Metro?

I'm not familiar with details of the Metro budget. I would guess that Metro administrators receive generous compensation but do not know how much more they make when compared to the drivers (or mechanics) performing meaningful services.

Quick question, do you ride the bus? You do understand that single driver SUVs funnel obscene amounts of wealth into the pockets of terrorists, right?

Quick question, do you support union busting? You do understand that corporate welfare, white collar crime, and nepotism are all immense burdens in the USA, right?

I only ask because the USA is currently plagued by greedy, immoral, tough talking chicken hawks that fail to live their religious values. It can be tough to tell if someone makes a habit of speaking for meaningful issues and against those that try to shout down liberty.
 

Re: Bus strike and student solidarity

"Quick question, do you ride the bus? You do understand that single driver SUVs funnel obscene amounts of wealth into the pockets of terrorists, right?"

I ride my bike primarily, occasionally the bus, and occasionally my car.

"Quick question, do you support union busting? You do understand that corporate welfare, white collar crime, and nepotism are all immense burdens in the USA, right?"

I don't always support unions, but I think they exist for a reason.
 

Re: Bus strike and student solidarity

"Quick question, do you support union busting? You do understand that corporate welfare, white collar crime, and nepotism are all immense burdens in the USA, right?"

I have no idea how this concerns the strike. White collar crime is bad, but it does not make it ok for the Unions to do what they are doing.
 

The barbarians are at the gates, UTU

UTU is taking on water big time. the public resents the hell out of them. They're even to even fight among themselves in public.

Read on...

www.santacruzsentinel.com/archive/2005/October/27/local/stories/06local.htm

www.santacruzsentinel.com/archive/2005/October/27/edit/let.htm
 

Mistake: Links didn't show up in the prior post

I poasted links to a sentinel story, and the sentinel letters to the editor in the last post, but they didn't come through when the post went up on the server.

My error for not understanding how the server works on IndyMedia.

How do you post links, anyway? I've seen it done here on IndyMedia.
 

Protest at Metro Board member's home backfires

When a group of UCSC students showed up at Metro Transit board member, Dene Bustichi's home at 9:30PM Sunday, he and his children were already in bed. They were rudely awakened by a large, noisy crowd which was pounding on their front door, chanting slogans, beating drums, and throwing fireworks in his driveway.

UCSC student leader, Maia Ramnath, one of the organizers, has led this group in a huge, tactical mistake. Staging a protest, late at night, at a board member's house was exactly the WRONG strategy, which has backfired with THREE letters of outrage in today's Sentinel.

The issue has been lost and the publicity gained was for the wrong topic. I'm all for protesting government grievances, but it must be in the proper venue. At one's business or govt. office is the appropriate place, not someone's home. This was harassment and tresspassing, not to mention disturbing the peace. The bus drivers should distance themselves from such supporters.

A neighbor came out and turned her garden hose on the protesters and another one came out with a gun! Ramnath and her fellow organizers should be chastised for their poor leadership. She and her ilk have effectively eliminated the UCSC student groups ability to be considered respectfully in this debate.
 

to "my error"

The only thing wrong with the links you posted above is that they link to the local, terrible, piece of crap 'news'paper used to spread lies and right-wing propaganda. Big surprise.... the Sentinel is running articles and LTEs in favor of those with the most money. Those who, of course, don't use the bus system anyway.

I'm glad that students protested at Dene Bustichi's home. He should be upset. People are pissed off at his actions, attitude and outright lies.
 

Re: Bus strike and student solidarity

"Quick question, do you support union busting? You do understand that corporate welfare, white collar crime, and nepotism are all immense burdens in the USA, right?"

I have no idea how this concerns the strike. White collar crime is bad, but it does not make it ok for the Unions to do what they are doing.


Oscar G., when was the last time you spoke out against white collar crime? Corporate welfare? Republican scandals (there are an immense number to choose from at the moment)? Union busting? Excessive METRO Administration payroll and perks?
 

Re: Bus strike and student solidarity

Pray tell, what does that have to do with leaving 23,000 riders stranded at the roadside with no warning?

$50k a year. Handicappers left at the curb with no warning. The UTU...serving you.

************

For information on how to join our band of whimpering simpletons, go to our website at
_www.local23.org
 

Re: Bus strike and student solidarity

"The only thing wrong with the links you posted above is that they link to the local, terrible, piece of crap 'news'paper used to spread lies and right-wing propaganda. Big surprise.... the Sentinel is running articles and LTEs in favor of those with the most money. Those who, of course, don't use the bus system anyway.

I'm glad that students protested at Dene Bustichi's home. He should be upset. People are pissed off at his actions, attitude and outright lies."

Awesome, so if I disagree with you I have the right to trespass on your property and harass your family and neighbors?

Can I have your address, please? I'll be over around 4 am! :D

As for the sentinel, it's fairly middle of the road - you just percieve that as being far right wing.
 

Re: Bus strike and student solidarity

Nick says the Sentinel is middle of the road. Bullshit! This is a paper that endorsed Bush! Perhaps by middle of the road Nick means a tank in the streets of Baghdad.

On the strike the paper has been equally as bad. On Saturday, October 1st, the Sentinel ran a headline entitled "Metro Drivers Reject Proposal." Yet the drivers were not given any proposal to reject. This headline did its job in placing blame for the strike on the workers rather than on the Metro Transit Board. In fact it was the Metro Transit Board that rejected the no strike agreement that had been agreed to by the worker and Transit Board representatives.
 

Re: Bus strike and student solidarity

"Oscar G., when was the last time you spoke out against white collar crime? Corporate welfare? Republican scandals (there are an immense number to choose from at the moment)? Union busting? Excessive METRO Administration payroll and perks? "

Just about every day. But I still don't see how white collar crime makes it ok for the unions to do whatever they want? I would like to read your response...
 

Re: Bus strike and student solidarity

"Nick says the Sentinel is middle of the road. Bullshit! This is a paper that endorsed Bush!"

...And we all know that you have to be a facist to have voted for Bush right!
I can think of countless topics over the years that the Sentinel has taken a hard left on.
 

Re: Bus strike and student solidarity

"But I still don't see how white collar crime makes it ok for the unions to do whatever they want?"

Oscar G., I don't believe you speak out about anything except what you perceive as attempts by the 'left' to educate people about the disaster that is Republican governance. Why? Because your comments sound Republican, and Republicans has shown themselves to be ignorant, greedy, liars, and criminals. Review the genealizations of Republicans (and their many crimes) before you complain about that generalization!

Your 'doing anything they want' characterization ignores the other side of the strike, the administrators that forced the union into a corner. The administrators could assume that people like yourself would make their excuses for them, and like a trained puppy, the excuses are made.

You also seem to be a cheerleader for white collar criminals that 'get to do whatever they want'. For example, all by itself, Enron represents over a year of all other non-corporate crime. If 1/10th, 1/100, or 1000th or the time, money, and hot air was spent fighting that white collar crime, then just maybe the budget of the nation, the state, and the city wouldn't be so anemic. Instead, Bush has run up the debt up to $8 trillion and people like you continue to ignore icebergs. In so doing, you do a great nation a grave injustice.
 

Re: Bus strike and student solidarity

Ok Mr. “Anonymous Poster?, how exactly am I a cheerleader for White Collar crime? That may be the saddest argument in favor of the strike I have heard yet. You can’t defend your cause so you start making wild accusations about those who appose you. Anyone who knows me personally knows I am no Republican and no Democrat. I spend most of my day fighting with Republicans in my workplace for crying out loud. But when I come to this site, I see the most ridiculous arguments made on the left and I call them out when I see them.

Of course there are two sides of the story when it comes to the strike. But I think the bottom line is that the Unions want money that is not there. I know I know, its “not about money?. But it is about benefits that cost money. So please don’t try to make it sound like its not about the cash.

I am all about showing how the current Bush administration has messed up royally. But if you think that it gives anyone on the left a pass, then you got another thing coming.
 

UTU needs a month off to kick drugs?

Someone told me that a dark, dirty secret of the UTU is that the real reason they need a whole month off at will is to kick substance abuse habits.

Now, that may make a LOT of sense.

Now things may be coming a lot clearer!

It always baffled me when one driver was quoted as saying he/she needed a month off to kick a coffee habit. That sounded SO WEIRD - I could only laugh at that. Why would a driver say something so lame-sounding? But when I think about how heavy-duty treatments programs for the HARDER DRUGS take a month, but the drivers might not be able to come right out and say that, then the "coffee habit" statement starts to make sense.

Anyway, the strike is over.

I am not going to forget the drivers' rididulousness and self-centeredness though, ever. The drivers left 23,000 people on the curb with no warning, becuase $50k a year and rad benefits wasn't enough. The drivers are self-centered jerks, end of discussion.

No excuse for that, no matter what anyone says.

The only thing that would begin to suffice is a very sincere very public apology.
 

Re: Bus strike and student solidarity

The drivers union lost big time in the eyes of the majority in SC. I hope that next time there is a strike that affects the whole community, they think a bit more about their responsibility to the community.
 

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