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ST. LOUIS (AP) - Bus commuters in St. Louis are putting up with delays after several drivers called in sick, leading to speculation it is part of frustration over contract talks that have dragged on for several months.

Metro transit agency says more than 70 bus drivers called in sick on Monday - about 10 times the normal absence rate. Twenty-nine of Metro's 310 buses on the Missouri side of the region were impacted, and delays on some routes were characterized as substantial.

Michael Breihan of Amalgamated Transit Union Local 788 told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that drivers were not encouraged by the union to call in sick, but they may be frustrated by contract talks. A key issue in the talks is the future of a pension program.

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