Lynx bus employees protest over contract negotiations

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ORLANDO, Fla. - Dozens of Lynx bus drivers and mechanics protested in front of the Lynx station in downtown Orlando on Wednesday.

Drivers and mechanics say they want a new contract with central Florida's public bus system. Negotiations have broken down with the union and a special master was called in to make a nonbinding recommendation.

"Give us what the special master recommended. We will take it. We will continue to do the jobs we are paid to do as professionals," said one protestor.

The heart of the issue is the pension plan. Lynx wants to change the pension and require contributions from new employees, but leave current employees' benefits in tact.

The union also wants more pay for the workers.

"This is America, and everyone has a right to free speech," said Lynx spokesperson Matt Friedman.

Friedman said the issue must now go before the board of directors, but both sides are still standing firm.

"We didn't want to raise fares, and we didn't want to reduce service and that's something that we think we've accomplished," said Friedman.

At one point, Orlando police had to force the picketers off Lynx's property because they were hindering bus traffic.

However, the protestors said they will not be leaving the driver's seat.

"We have no intention of striking. We know that the people that ride these city buses need to go to work, they need to go to appointments and they need to go to school. We will never interrupt that," said a protestor.

Leaders said they plan to keep up the pressure and return to the picket line at the end of the month when the Lynx board meets again on Sept. 27.