February 25 2009, 8:48 AM
Union drivers, mechanics, and other Regional Transportation District workers avoided a strike and won the right to have an arbitrator hammer out the details of a new contract if they can't, according to the Rocky Mountain News, which notes the union wants a "modest wage increase" as its old contract is set to expire this week. But RTD is strapped for cash and wants to freeze wages for three years. The district estimates that declining sales-tax revenues, which pay for the bulk of operations, will be down 4.4 percent compared with last year, a problem that has already resulted in service cuts to shore up a $23 million shortfall, reports The Denver Post. RTD is still looking for places to slash expenses, and "one budget wild card for RTD is the agency's labor expense for its 1,900 unionized bus and train operators and mechanics." It might be interesting to ask RTD workers what they think of Glenn Spencer, a former labor guru in the Bush administration who now represents the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Spencer was in Denver earlier this week to decry new federal legislation that would give workers more freedom in organizing unions, according to The Colorado Independent.