Media Center

Sep 17

St. Louis Metro Workers Declare Victory, Secure Agreement Preserving Retirement Security

Union calls on Metro Board & Elected Officials to address “Oreo” incident

St. Louis, MO – After Metro workers waged an aggressive campaign for a fair contract that preserves retirement security, the Bi-State Development Agency (d/b/a Metro) and Amalgamated Transit Union Local 788 have agreed to a tentative agreement that preserves workers’ defined benefit pension plan, increases wages, and improves health care coverage. 

“This is an historic day and a big victory for all of St. Louis. Working people in this city have been under attack for years, but today, Metro workers and their allies reversed the momentum,” said Local 788 President Mike Breihan. “We drew a line in the sand and said, ‘no, you can’t take what little we have left.’”

The tentative agreement, which will be voted on by Metro workers on Thursday, September 25, follows a dramatic month in the long-standing dispute between Metro and ATU Local 788.  Metro workers leafleted riders at transit centers and organized demonstrations at Metro HQ to draw attention to the economic injustice perpetrated by Metro CEO John Nations on St. Louis riders and workers alike.

There were numerous attempts to racially divide workers by management during negotiations. One of the most egregious was race-baiting by members of Metro’s negotiating committee by distributing a recipe for Oreo cookies to members of Local 788 at the conclusion of a heated bargaining session.

The majority of Metro bus operators are African-American, while the Local President is white. The obvious message with the recipe was a racial slur that the union is “white on the inside and black on the outside,” like the cookie.

In response, ATU called on Nations and elected officials to remove the staff responsible for the incident. Workers also launched an “Oreo” ad campaign in a local newspaper and local radio stations to highlight Metro’s attempts to racially divide the workforce.

“Securing the agreement is a victory, but it doesn’t resolve the pain and outrage that the Oreo incident caused. This issue must be addressed,” Breihan continued. “After all our community has been through in the last month, we will not accept behavior like this. We will be calling on the Metro Board and elected officials to address this immediately.”

“We await a response from Governor Jay Nixon and Governor Pat Quinn on their positions about the METRO government officials using racial slurs at the bargaining table. This is how you use the ‘N’ word without saying it,” said ATU International President Larry Hanley. “It must be dealt with swiftly and with respect for the workers of St Louis.”