Letter to UTU leadership from the Bus Riders Union
August 31, 2000
James Williams, Chairman
United Transportation Union
15999 Cypress Ave.
Irwindale, CA 91706
(F) (626) 962-8079
Dear Mr. Williams,
The Bus Riders Union Planning Committee has voted to support the MTA's unionized employees should they go on strike next week. Since 1994 the BRU has supported MTA employees' right to strike and we continue to do so. We would like to talk to you about how the BRU can help the union's efforts in winning its demands, educate bus riders on the nature of the struggle, reduce the tension between riders and MTA employees, and work with the union in struggling with our common foe, the MTA.
We believe the MTA's recent full page ad, signed by CEO Julian Burke, is an effort to pit the passengers against the drivers, mechanics and other MTA personnel. It has always been one of the core objectives of the Bus Riders Union to create a labor/community coalition between bus riders and MTA employees and we oppose any efforts by the MTA to create animosity between these two communities. It is our belief that the majority of the bus riders would support the strike if they knew what attacks the MTA is making on employees since the MTA is also making attacks on its riders. But bus riders need to understand just what the unions are asking for and what the MTA is countering with. Without the political education this information can provide the riders and without a counter message to them from the unions, bus riders and the general public will fall prey to the MTA's propaganda efforts and may sympathize more with the MTA than its employees. We'd like to help in countering that MTA strategy.
Just as with the MTA trying to squeeze the unions, they are planning to squeeze the riders again with proposed service cuts for next year. This is another point of discussion we'd like to have with you since we feel, as with the transit zones, that these service cuts are a way for the MTA to privatize more service and is part of its piecemeal strategy to get out of the bus service entirely and just be a light rail and subway provider. This "death by attrition" strategy will create a balkanized bus system and threatens both riders and MTA employees. We'd like to work with you on halting these and other dangerous moves by the MTA.
Tomorrow we will making our position known to the media and will also be distributing this letter to MTA operators and other personnel along with a flyer explaining to MTA employees why we support the strike. We will also be distributing a similar flyer to bus riders to explain why they should support the strike as well. This flyer could be amended later, once we hear from you, to include the union's demands and the MTA's counter demands.
We understand that you are currently in negotiations but we hope to hear from you soon so we can see how we might work together if there is a strike next week. We are sending similar letters to the other unions involved and hope we can all work together for the good of MTA's employees and riders.