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ST. LOUIS (KSDK) - Metro Transit workers voted Tuesday to authorize a strike, a spokesperson for the Amalgamated Transit Union said.

The strike was authorized after Metro management stopped mediation last week.

Local 788 represents 1,200 MetroBus operators, MetroLink drivers, mechanics, and clerical workers.

"We don't want to strike, and we don't want to abandon the people of St. Louis who rely on us to get to work, school, and other daily tasks," said Local 788 President Mike Breihan. "We want our riders to know that we stand ready to negotiate a fair contract, but that we cannot accept a contract that essentially sets us back to where we were decades ago."

The current Metro contract expired June 30, 2009. Two extensions were agreed upon, the last of which expired January 21, 2011.

From here the two sides will go to a mediator. If they can't come to terms on a contract, the next step could be to strike.

John M. Nations, president and CEO of Bi-Statement Development Agency/Metro released the following statement in response to the vote:
"The Union is well aware that a strike is illegal in Missouri. Many people worked very hard to pass Proposition A in St. Louis County in 2010, but voters did not vote for giving into unreasonable demands by the Union. In fact, the Union has already agreed to a contract for the Call-A-Ride operators that includes the pension reforms under discussion in this negotiation and the Union has completely failed to explain its change of position in this negotiation from what it agreed to six months ago in the Call-A-Ride negotiations. We hope they will, as all the rest of our employees have, accept the financial realities which we must address in the 21st century and not cling to a pension model from the 1950's. We have never refused to talk to the Union. We have never walked out of talks. We remain hopeful that they will return to the table in good faith ready to seriously discuss the issues which confront our company. We would hope that no Metro employee would disadvantage the thousands of riders who depend on us every day. We will provide transit service to the best of our ability if a such a work action would occur."