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PoliGraph: Pawlenty misses on strike comment

False image.GIFBy Catharine Richert

During his recent travels around the country, Gov. Tim Pawlenty made a pit-stop in Tennessee to speak at the Republican Party's annual dinner.

In his June 25, speech, Pawlenty touted his efforts to reform "that entitlement perspective in Minnesota."

In Minnesota, he said, "the longest transit strike in the history of the United States of America shut down the bus system for 44 days because our bus drivers thought it was okay to work for just 15 years and then have the government pay for their health insurance for the rest of your life."

A quick Google search shows that the 2004 Metro Bus strike is hardly the longest in U.S. history.

The Evidence

Pawlenty cites this bit of Minnesota history often, according to Alex Conant, a spokesman for Pawlenty. In an e-mail, Conant wrote, "it turns out it was only the longest in the modern history, and there have been some that were longer."

Indeed, here are a few transit strikes that beat the 2004 Metro Bus shut-down.

In 1983, workers for the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority staged a 108-day strike.
In 1967, Honolulu bus drivers stopped working for 68 days in an effort to get better pay.
In 1958, Los Angeles bus drivers launched a strike that lasted 54 days.

The Verdict

Pawlenty's characterization of the 2004 Metro Bus strike is off by a long-shot. This claim is false.

Sources

Trains Magazine, Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA), by Matt Van Hattem, June 30, 2006

The Honolulu Star Bulletin, Longest stoppage halted buses for 68 days

The Los Angeles Times, Buses Put in Shape to Roll Again Today Afer End of Long Strike, accessed June 30, 2010.

Interview, Alex Conant, spokesman, Gov. Tim Pawlenty, July 1, 2010


PoliGraph is a regular series of reports that checks the veracity of politicians' claims. It is a collaboration between Minnesota Public Radio News and the Humphrey Institute at the University of Minnesota.

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