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Minnesota

Striking Transit Workers Slam Governor

by staff |
March 18, 2004
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St. Paul, MN - As the transit strike enters its third week, more than 1,300 transit workers and their supporters rallied on the steps of the state capitol building, March 18. The rally drew from a broad cross section of the labor movement, including postal workers, University of Minnesota clerical workers, Teamsters and some of the building and trades unions.

No contract talks are scheduled between Metropolitan Council and the striking members of Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1005, whose ranks include bus and light rail drivers, cleaners, maintenance and clerical workers. The main issue is health care. In the months leading up to the strike, Governor Pawlenty and his appointed head of the Met Council, Peter Bell, made it clear that they wanted big concessions from the transit workers - in fact, the Met Council wanted to stop paying for retiree's health care.

Speaking to the rally, Phyllis Walker, president of AFSCME Local 3800, blasted the Pawlenty administration for making the health care crisis for Minnesota working people worse.

After the rally, more than 300 of the workers marched to the governor's office inside the capitol building. Overflowing the governor's reception area, many slammed Pawlenty, chanting, "Shame on you!" In an attempt to keep more bus drivers from entering the office area, the head of the governor's security detail and a member of the state patrol attacked a transit worker. No one was intimidated.