Bus drivers for Metro Transit in Minneapolis-St. Paul walked off the job at 2 a.m. Thursday morning, Transit Union Local 1005 President Ron Lloyd told the Pioneer Press.
Lloyd apologized to customers for any disruption of service, and said the Thursday strike time was set Wednesday to give riders time to plan transportation alternatives. Metro Transit provides an estimated 220,000 rides to 75,000 passengers daily.
Mediated talks between union leaders and Metro Transit broke down Wednesday after a 16-hour negotiating session. The dispute, which led to the postponement of the opening of Metro Transit’s Hiawatha Light Rail Project, revolves around health care costs.
Metro Transit officials say health insurance expenses have gone through the roof in recent years. To compensate, their latest contract offer eliminated retiree health benefits for new workers and cut back eligibility for current employees.