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The union representing Metro Bus drivers says Monday's absenteeism wasn't an organized sickout.
Nearly 100 bus drivers didn't report to work yesterday -- ten-times the number who might miss on an ordinary day. But yesterday wasn't ordinary in St. Louis. It was Opening Day at Busch Stadium. There has been speculation that the drivers, disgruntled over the lack of progress in contract negotiations, may have been trying to disrupt traffic heading downtown for the Cardinals' home opener.
If that was their aim, it wasn't very effective. Metro Transit CEO John Nations says there were significant delays on Missouri bus lines yesterday, but MetroLink and Illinois bus lines weren't affected. Since most public transit rider heading for Busch Stadium use MetroLink, they saw few delays.
Nations says the transit agency called in extra drivers in an effort to keep the buses rolling. But many commuters still saw significant delays. On some lines, buses were running an hour or more behind.
The transit agency and the Amalgamated Transit Union, which represents the bus drivers have been locked in contract talks for months. A spokesman for Local 788 tells the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that drivers weren't encouraged by the union to call in sick, but may have acted in frustration over the slow pace of contract talks.