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Momentum Falters in MTA Strike Talks

October 26, 2003|Daren Briscoe | Times Staff Writer

As the Metropolitan Transportation Authority mechanics strike enters its 13th day today, momentum in talks between the parties appears to have stalled.

Negotiations continue to be conducted with a mediator shuttling proposals between the parties, sequestered in separate rooms.

Saturday's talks began about 11:30 a.m. with the delivery of a proposal from the Amalgamated Transit Union, representing 2,200 bus and train mechanics, to the MTA.

Union President Neil Silver said the proposal would "make [the MTA] happy," but the day's negotiations adjourned less than two hours later as the MTA considered the proposal.

The MTA plans to switch gears today and reopen discussions with its unionized bus and train drivers, whose contract expired in June. The drivers walked out Oct. 14 along with clerks and dispatchers in sympathy with the mechanics.

Silver began to notify union members that they would receive strike pay of $100 a week beginning Wednesday. He blamed the MTA, which has taken an aggressively public stance against the strike, for prolonging the walkout.

"We apologize for the inconvenience that this has brought to the public," Silver said. "We really do. The MTA could have settled this 17 months ago."

As many as 400,000 commuters a day are affected by the strike, according to the MTA.

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Times staff writer Sharon Bernstein contributed to this report.

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