Possible transit strike in Miami

12 August 2011

Senior officials of public transportation in Miami-Dade on Thursday warned of a possible strike by Metrobus drivers and Metrorail operators, who are angry about possible cuts demanded by the county mayor Carlos Gimenez.

Ysela Llort, acting director of the Public Transport Authority of Miami-Dade (MDT) said

on Thursday afternoon that he expects the impact of the strike may be limited, but wanted to warn the hundreds of thousands of users of Metrobus and Metrorail to the possibility of delays if they join the strike a significant number of operators.

The problem arose due to the pressure exerted by Giménez for concessions in wages and benefits by County employees. According to transport union leaders, some drivers and operators Metrobus Metrorail have discussed the possibility of a “sick-out” on Monday and Tuesday, or call their supervisors and in sick when in fact they are not.

On average, each day, Monday to Friday in Miami-Dade County, 332.700 trips take place Metrobus, Metrorail and Metromover. The Metromover would not be affected because it is a train automatically, without operator. Most passengers travel on the Metrobus (a total of 237,000 trips each day from Monday to Friday), MDT on Thursday reported based on the most recent figures released in June.

Llort extended also to warn users of possible delays, MDT administrators have taken steps to avoid serious delays in the event that a significant number of operators do not report to work.

“There are contingency measures we are taking,” he said.

For example, reported that supervisors have asked Metrobus and Metrorail, as well as part-time employees who are ready to work longer hours on Monday and Tuesday, buses and trains operating in the event that unemployment is widespread.

In a memo to employees dated MDT on Tuesday, Llort warned that if some employees join a strike could lose their jobs or be subjected to other disciplinary action.

“Therefore, any participation in this prohibited activity will result in administrative action, including dismissal for employees of the County,” he wrote in his memorandum Llort employees. “That is well understood that employees must present proper documentation at the request of the administration to support any unscheduled absence on 15 and August 16, 2011 or any date where there is suspicion of a work stoppage.”

According to the memorandum of Llort, the work stoppage is prohibited by state law and County agreements with the transport workers’ union, Transport Workers Union (TWU).

TWU said union leaders disagree with the possible shutdown and no one knows precisely how many Metrobus or Metrorail operators do not report to work Monday and Tuesday.

Llort said the strike, if extended, would have a greater impact on the service bus as the trains could be operated mostly by supervisors and delays would be minor. If a significant number of bus operators is absent, be noticed in delays in the arrival of bus stops and transfer centers, one route to another, said Llort.

For example, peaking some popular routes buses run every seven to 10 minutes. If there are delays, it could take buses every 15 to 20 minutes or more.

A statement by MDT on Wednesday night said the county transportation agency will try by all means there are no delays or interruptions of service, but some users may experience delays in the arrival of buses and trains.

“It would be better than all those who have made important appointments these days alternative transport arrangements, if possible, in case of delays or service interruption,” it said.

The mayor expressed frustration Giménez the possible strike.

“I am disappointed that some employees of the County’s public transport plan to participate in illegal industrial action next week,” said Gimenez in a statement from his office. “Thousands of residents and visitors rely on our public transportation system every day for work, school or medical appointments. Our public transport system provides an essential service. “