The union official violated a fundamental rule, that is you don't bit the hand that might feed you:
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MARTA, union appear far apart
> By JULIE B. HAIRSTON
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
> Published on: 05/16/05
Sharp exchanges between a leader of the union representing MARTA workers and a state senator suggest that metro Atlanta's largest transit system and its drivers, mechanics and other skilled workers are far from agreement on the terms of a new contract.
During a meeting last week of MARTA's legislative oversight committee, state Sen. Vincent Fort (D-Atlanta) asked MARTA and union officials to outline differences between leave policies and health care benefits offered to union employees and those offered to nonunion employees.
Ernie Brooks, president of Amalgamated Transit Union Local 732, bristled at the request and reiterated his commitment not to discuss the substance of the ongoing contract negotiations in public.
The current union contract expires June 30.
"I smell something a little funny. Personally, I smell a rat," Brooks said.
Fort told the labor union president that he has a record of sympathy for labor issues, but that such sentiments are in short supply in the General Assembly.
"There are folks that don't want either of you [MARTA or labor] around," Fort said. "I'm saying to both of you that if y'all don't find a way to cooperate, you've got a very cloudy future."
In the 10 meetings MARTA and union officials have held so far, the two have exchanged lists of issues. MARTA's list contained 22 items and the union list contained 33, according to Dave Hudson, MARTA's director of labor relations.
"I would describe our negotiations at this point as very open, very frank and very serious," Hudson said.
Hudson also disclosed to the committee that the question of how sick days, leave and vacation are managed has been a topic of discussion.
He also acknowledged that the negotiators also are discussing health care.
State Rep. Jill Chambers (R-Atlanta), chairwoman of the legislative committee, created two study committees. One will examine MARTA's capital assets, including its real estate holdings, and the other will conduct a labor cost analysis.
The next legislative oversight committee meeting will be a daylong session June 9.
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