St. Louis Metro Workers Stripped Of Civil Rights-St. Louis ATU 788 Metro Workers Launch "Oreo" Ad Campaign To Stop Race Baiting

St. Louis Metro Workers Stripped Of Civil Rights-St. Louis ATU 788 Metro Workers Launch "Oreo" Ad Campaign To Stop Race Baiting
ATU Calls for End of "Race Baiting" in Contract Talks, METRO Responds with Gag Order, Demonstrations continue Tues.
Media Contact: Todd Brogan, 202-340-2001 or David Roscow, 202-537-1645 x254

St. Louis, MO – Within hours of receiving a letter from ATU International President Larry Hanley demanding that METRO management end “race baiting at the bargaining table,” METRO issued a gag order to prevent workers from talking with the people of St. Louis.
The letter to METRO CEO John Nations was in response to an incident at a July negotiating session during which a member of METRO’s bargaining team distributed what he called “a gift” to Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) Local 788: a recipe for OREO Cookies. The bizarre event followed a series of attempts by the agency to “drive a wedge between the mostly white maintenance employees and its drivers and other members,” “incite discord among our members,” and “splinter our local,” the letter said.
“We are appalled by this blatant insult and transparent race baiting,” Hanley wrote. “Such arrogance has no place at the bargaining table or anywhere, especially in today’s climate of unrest. We hope you share our view that the Metro employee who did this should not continue in your employ.”
METRO transit workers began leafleting riders on Monday to highlight Nations’ poor management of the system and treatment of riders and workers. Nations, they say, promised riders and workers when he was appointed to build a transit system that worked for all. Instead, he has raised fares, refused to give workers a contract for three and a half years or a raise for more than six years, and is threatening their retirement security. All the while, Nations is lining his pockets with a $250,000 salary.
After receiving Hanley’s letter, METRO Director of Labor Relations Charles Priscu delivered a letter and bulletin banning workers from leafleting riders at METRO property to ATU Local 788 President Michael Breihan and posted it in all METRO bus garages, rail yards, and other worksites.
Hanley says the abrupt enforcement of a previously unenforced policy suggests intimidation.
“This is a serious violation of our First Amendment rights at a time when our members and riders in St. Louis need it the least,” said Hanley. “We will not be intimidated or divided. Instead, we will be back at stations to tell our riders the truth about John Nations and his role in fueling the economic injustice that holds great cities like this back.”
METRO workers plan to return to 14th Street/Civic Center station to leaflet riders tomorrow.

About ATU
The Amalgamated Transit Union is the largest labor organization representing transit workers in the United States and Canada. Founded in 1892, the ATU today is comprised of over 190,000 members in 253 local unions spread across 47 states and nine provinces, including 3,000 workers at Greyhound Lines, Inc. Composed of bus drivers, light rail operators, maintenance and clerical personnel and other transit and municipal employees, the ATU works to promote transit issues and fights for the interests of its hard-working members.

St. Louis ATU 788 Metro Workers Launch "Oreo" Ad Campaign To Stop Race Baiting
St. Louis, MO – Exposing race baiting by Metro CEO John Nations’ staff the Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) has launched an “Oreo” ad campaign to stop Metro’s attempts to racially divide the workforce and to drag management and Governor Nixon into the 21st century.
The “Oreo” ads, which will run in the St. Louis American and on radio stations, expose an incident when members of Metro’s negotiating committee distributed to members of ATU Local 788 a recipe for Oreo Cookies at the end of a heated bargaining session.
The majority of Metro bus operators are African-American, while most mechanics are white. The obvious message with the recipe was that the union is “white on the inside and black on the outside,” like the cookie.
ATU International President Larry Hanley wrote Nations a letter asking him to discharge the member of his bargaining team responsible for the incident. Nations publically dismissed the “Oreo” incident as a Metro employee sharing his “baking hobby”
“Amid everything else happening in St. Louis, it is unconscionable that John Nations can act so belligerently,” Hanley says. “When a Metro worker found a noose in his locker in the year 2000, Nations’ predecessor immediately responded and laid out a zero tolerance policy for racism. Yet in the year 2014, John Nations just waves it off. He’s managed to set race relations at our agency back 20 years.”
The union’s “Oreo” ad, reads: “Everyone loves Oreo cookies. But no one appreciates being called an Oreo….“Tell John Nations his insults can’t pull us apart. Economic justice isn’t about black or white, it’s about respect.”
Hanley has also written a letter to Missouri Governor Jay Nixon and Illinois Governor Pat Quinn to remove Nations for his failure to “correct the outrageous conduct of his staff at the bargaining table.” Neither Governor has acted.
“Metro and Governor Nixon seem to be living in the days of the Jim Crow era,” Hanley continued. “It’s time they starting living in the 21st century and quit trying to racially divide the workers.”