Drivers Protest as Metro Contract Negotiations Grind to Halt

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Photo by Brittanie Shey
Union members lined the north and east side of Metro's downtown headquarters this morning -- a prime visibility location for those taking the light rail to work -- to protest the breakdown in contract negotiations between Metro's leadership and members of the Transportation Workers Union Local 260.

At issue is how the Metro is planning to use money it has already earmarked for expansion of the light rail and adding more entry-level positions to the company, protesters said. The employees' contract expires at midnight tomorrow.

As buses and trains passed by, honking in solidarity, Union steward and transportation grievances representative Wayne Jackson said workers are most concerned with "givebacks" proposed by Metro leadership -- cuts in salaries and higher cost for benefits. "We don't want to give back things we already have," he said.

About 30 picketers waved signs with slogans like"The New Metro: 23 Vice Presidents and Counting" and "The New Metro Puts Image Before Safety."

Vanessa Ausley, another Union steward, said Metro is proposing cuts to routes in low-income areas, citing decreased ridership, which she says isn't true.

"We're only asking for what's fair."

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Photo by Brittanie Shey
"We want to prevent this from happening before it happens," Jackson said.
Charles Davenport, vice president of the Local 260, said Metro is too focused on light rail expansion and not focused enough on its own employees, citing "unfair labor practices" such as cuts in health care benefits.

"Metro just got a $307 million federal grant to build the light rail. They have a budget set to give us money, but they're not."

Henry is a bus operator who was hesitant to give his last name to media, even at the insistence of union v.p. Davenport, who said, "Go ahead. We'll protect you."

Henry talked about the lack of respect with which operators are viewed, and the service they provide to the community.

"We wake up at 1 or 2 a.m. to get people to work at 5 a.m.," he said. "We jump out of our seats to help those in wheelchairs. We help those who are lost, the elderly. I jump out of my seat for people who need help. They may yell at us, cuss at us, but we still have to say thank you when they step off the bus."

Metro sent us a statement from President & CEO George Greanias via e-mail:

"We have been working for three months to reach an agreement with the union. Talks are still on-going, and we will not negotiate in the press. However, we are committed to reaching an agreement that is fair to everyone involved."

Click to the next page for more protest pics.


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8 comments
Monalisa6277
Monalisa6277

After Mr. Greanias was Suspended for viewing Porn on Company time....He should give those Workers whatever they ask for....

David Gollinger
David Gollinger

CEO George Greanis says he is committed to reaching an agreement that is fair to everyone, but the truth is, Metro is not negotiating in good faith. Their idea of negotiating is, either you agree to do what they want, and like it, or they will strip away all of your benefits.That is not negotiating, that is Blackmail..! That is exactly why we were force away from the negotiating table, we could not in good conscience bring our Members what Metro was proposing and ask our members to approve it.

David GollingerPresident, TWU Local 2602150W 18th St.  

Charles Davenport
Charles Davenport

As a Metro Operator a great deal of pride is put in transporting Gods most precious cargo people. No one can do it better than the Local 260 Operators in Houston , Tx and we have the National Bus Driver Awards to prove it . In 15 years we have won the National event in Bus Driving 6 times , so Houston Metro drivers are well known and some have driven over a million miles safely too i might add . When a major tragedy happen in the city like a flood Houston Metro Drivers come to the rescue as well as Police ,Fire Dept. and others do . We make sure we can carry every passenger home before we go home that's just the way the job is done . We wake up early to to people to and from and we go in late just to repeat it all over again the next day. 24 hours a day 7 days a week Metro buses are on the way.

metro sucks
metro sucks

ooo the smell of the riders, the phone yacking I'd rather walk

Bill
Bill

I support the METRO drivers, most of whom are wonderful caring people genuinely concerned with doing a good job despite tough conditions and a sometimes unfriendly work environment.  When I still had good local bus service and could use METRO to commute to work daily, I met many fantastic drivers, almost all of whom greeted me every day with a smile and said "See you tomorrow/Monday" with a smile when I got off the bus.  And not once was a bus I was on involved in any sort of accident, despite some amazingly bone-headed driving from private cars. So let's see, 2x day, 5 days a week, 47 weeks a year for well over 10 years?  That's some safe, professional driving! 

Corey
Corey

Go metro drivers, for every good one there are 10 surly ill mannered ones who enjoy throwing paying riders around by driving far too fast on bad streets.. Think West Dallas exiting downtown if you need proof, darn near snaps my neck daily.

Pmoon123
Pmoon123

David please don't let us Down like so many elected officials have so many times b-4 We are standing.with you we need each other in this fight we showed you we are behind you 100% now the ball is in your hand show us "WHAT YOU WORKING WITH"

Tandysfamily
Tandysfamily

we try for 100% satisfaction, but some you just can't satisfy regardless. Some folks say we drive slow,some say we drive fast. Just like at your employment, you go in with the attitude of doing a good job to keep your job and theirs alway that one boss or customer who thinks the world is all about them; carrying around that negative spirit everywhere they go and attacking it on everyone they come in contact with. Life is about loving and caring if even you don't think no one is showing you the same. You just keep doing whats right and let GOD take care of the rest.

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