Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Why Sun Tran management and Tucson need to stand firm in negotiations with the Teamsters.

By now, readers have likely read or heard of the ongoing Sun Tran strike that has bus service in Tucson cut back to extremely limited service leaving many who cannot afford autos nearly stranded in a city designed and built for autos.

It's a severe inconvenience, and it lays bare the often forgotten "distributional" implications of transportation policy decisions. To many of the working poor, it's more than an inconvenience; it's like a kneecapping of their livelihood.

But the Teamsters are asking far, far too much for Sun Tran management. If necessary, strikebreakers should be hired to get the buses moving and the poor to their jobs ASAP. Caving in is not an option.

This is no mere dispute over wages and benefits: the union is demanding that there be no route cutbacks, no layoffs, and that Sun Tran be transferred to the sales-tax subsidized RTA. More than retirees and xenophobia have crossed the Colorado River in recent years. The Teamsters in this dispute are, like California government-employees' unions, attempting to arrogate to themselves the ability to set policy. Not in this state, not even in left-leaning Tucson, should they be allowed to do so.

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