ATU Local 757 delays strike at Lane Transit

EUGENE — A transit strike in Lane County was averted — at least for a while — when bus operators and their union, Amalgamated Transit Union Local 757, agreed Jan. 31 to a public mediation plan and 35-day cooling off period.

Some 230 operators and others who work at Lane Transit District had given 10 days' notice to walk out Feb. 1.

At press time, union officials learned that Lane Transit would not participate in the mediation.

Al Zullo, president of Local 757, said the union would honor the 35-day cooling off and cooperate with the mediation panel, which was endorsed by several state senators and representatives in the area.

“Because we do not think a strike is in the best interests of the public, we will comply with the mediation committee’s recommendations — if they are willing to continue without the Transit District,” Zullo said.

Carol Allred, a member of the union’s negotiating team, pointed out that “a strike would be devastating to the people that depend on us every day — our students, our seniors, disabled riders and people who commute by bus. Our riders come first.”

The mediation committee will start fact-finding immediately. They plan to ask an independent auditor to sort out the conflicting financial claims presented by the parties.

“We have nothing to fear from the truth,” said Zullo. “Let’s get all the facts on the table and let the committee and the community decide what’s best for the people of Eugene, Springfield and Cottage Grove.”

Lane Transit can still impose it’s final offer, which included increases in co-payments for health insurance. It had not done so as this issue went to press.

In addition to health insurance costs, service cuts that have eliminated one in four routes in Lane County are key issues in the dispute.

On Jan. 29, union members held a rally at the Transit District. Union members from throughout Oregon and Southwest Washington came in a show of support for the bus operators.

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