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Mechanics Vote Down MTA's Offer

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Mechanics Vote Down MTA's Offer

Transit strike standoff continues. The mayor and three other politicians rejoin talks.

By Kurt Streeter and Sharon Bernstein, Times Staff Writers

Striking transit mechanics voted soundly Friday to reject the Metropolitan Transportation Authority's "last, best and final" contract offer, leaving the standoff without an immediate resolution and with the next steps uncertain.

The vote came hours after a judicial ruling Friday that will allow Los Angeles Mayor James K. Hahn and three other powerful politicians to rejoin negotiations, a decision hailed by both sides in the nearly 4-week-old strike.

Ninety-three percent of the 1,358 active and retired mechanics who voted on the MTA's offer turned it down. Neil Silver, president of Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1277, said the overwhelming rejection should force the MTA to alter its hard-line stance.

"This contract went down in a resounding no," Silver said. "Perhaps the message will get back to the MTA to get back to the negotiating table. We are not going to take this draconian offer.

"It is time to end the games and get back to work."

MTA Chief Executive Roger Snoble said he was disappointed by the results but stood firm on the contract offer.

"The MTA will hold the line," he said in a statement. "There are no additional funds to be put on the table. Further concessions would result in service cuts, fare increases and job losses."

The strike began Oct. 14, effectively shutting down the nation's third-largest transit system and stranding about 400,000 daily bus and train riders. MTA drivers and clerks have stayed off the job in support of the mechanics.

Representatives of both sides in the dispute welcomed the return of Hahn and three other Democrats

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The union I belong to faces the same issues with our employer. As the cost of health insurance rises it puts financial pressure on both employer who needs to keep costs down to stay afloat and employee who needs cash in hand to pay the bills.

Often there are "Health and Welfare" funds that employers contribute to that allows the union to negotiate a group rate with an HMO. Health plans of this nature have the additional burden of paying for retirees who are living longer and longer causing additional financial pressure. That seems to be one of the biggest issues in this strike.

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