Two issues are most prominently cited by striking Metro workers as the reasons for continuing the wildcat walkout.
Cost-of-Living Pay Increase. The contract between Metro and Local 689 of the Amalgamated Transit Union expired April 30. It contained a clause calling for a quarterly cost-of-living increase virtually equivalent to the quarterly increase in the Consumer Price Index for the Washington Metropolitan area. The contract also contains a clause stating "All the conditions in this contract shall remain undisturbed during the arbitration proceedings" that are required to settle unesolved issues after the contract expires.
Metro has interpreted "undisturbed" to mean that it need not pay the cost-of-living increase unless it is required to do so by an arbritration panel. If the panel orders Metro to pay the cost-of-living increase retroactively, Metro must do so. In 1976, when a previous contract expired, the arbitration panel did not require retroactivity, and there was no cost-of-living increase for the first quarter of that new contract.
Strikers have contended that "undisturbed" means that they should receive the cost-of-living increase regardless of the fact that the contract has expired.
The amount of money at stake in 20 cents an hour for a fully qualified bus operator or train motorman, added to a base salary of $8.16 per hour. All other union employes' salaries are figured as a percentage of the fully qualified bus operators' base.
Amnesty. Since the strike began, Metro has suspended 23 employes and has moved in court against 123 others. The strikers are now seeking guarantees that there will be no disciplinary action against them if they return to work.
Contributing to the confusion is the fact that Metro officials announced on the second day of the strike that 180 employes had been suspended. Metro revised that figured downward to 23 yesterday and explained that the number 180 had been a mistake.
Of the 123 named in court papers, Metro has actually moved against only three, who are scheduled to appear in court today to show why they should not be held in contempt for disobeying the court'sorder to stop strike activities.