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'Trouble at the RTD'

July 16, 1986

We believe many aspects of your editorial (July 7), "Trouble at the RTD," are misleading concerning the attitude of the United Transportation Union regarding the absenteeism problem on the Southern California Rapid Transit District.

This union, and the overwhelming majority of our members, believe that the RTD is entitled to a day's work for a day's pay. We in no way condone excessive absenteeism, although we do believe the abuses are limited to a small minority of operators, and current conditions are such that absenteeism increases are to be expected.

The Times indicates drivers average 42 hours a week. That may have been true at one time, but I think you'll find the facts today show that RTD drivers are working far in excess of 42 hours a week, with many being required to sacrifice their days off.

You cite a contract provision that "a driver is permitted up to six days of absenteeism in three months before facing any formal action." That is incorrect; it is six days in six months . . . and at one time there was no provision in our contract regarding absenteeism.

During our last three contract negotiations the subject of absenteeism was a major topic of discussions and the union was responsive in addressing the problems the district faced. However, we believe the RTD has been lax in exercising the controls they already have at their disposal, which neither contract nor laws could prevent.

Having now had an opportunity to go over the Price Waterhouse report insofar as drivers are concerned, I find that it goes into a number of areas other than driver absenteeism, such as productivity, and does so favorably in virtually all instances.

It's a shame that the one negative aspect of the report is the only one your publication sees fit to report on.


General Chairman

United Transportation Union


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