by Jonathan Weaver
Several local transit drivers will see varying payday advances during their next three years of work after a new labor agreement was signed yesterday.
Town and Country Transit municipality board directors unanimously approved a new, three-year agreement with Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1738, based out of Latrobe.
The contract will begin July 1 – the beginning of the fiscal year – and remain in-effect until June 30, 2016.
Operations Manager Gerry Miller explained pay increases will result in all three years of the agreement. Commercial Drivers License (CDL) drivers are to receive about $2 more.
“What we’re trying to do is we’re trying to put everyone on the same level: all CDL drivers are eventually going to get paid the same amount of money, all van drivers are going to get paid the same amount of money,” Miller said. “There’s going to be a decided-difference between the CDL and van drivers.”
During the first year of the contract, shared-ride drivers will get a three percent raise and fixed-route drivers will get a one-percent raise. The following year, shared-ride drivers will receive a five-percent raise and fixed-route drivers will receive a three-percent raise (so that both groups earn the same amount) before all drivers get a four-percent raise in the final year of the contract. Pay amounts are calculated regardless of seniority.
Currently a class system is in place, and even one between fixed-route drivers and CDL drivers.
“These folks all got the same license and requirements, they can drive the same buses – one day, they can be a fixed-route (driver) and the next day, a shared-ride (driver),” Miller said. “This way, they’ll get paid the same no matter what.”
Miller said drivers negotiated for that balance while in negotiations.
Van drivers – or those that drive less than 15 passengers – will get approximately a 2.5 percent raise per year, but will make less at the end of the contract. They are, however, able to apply for the CDL license and enroll in additional training if they so choose.
A driver has reportedly already inquired about that additional training and has an appointment at the Department of Motor Vehicles later this month.
Employees would have to pay for the commercial license out of their own pocket. According to the Department of Motor Vehicles application, Commercial Drivers Licenses cost $10 more than non-commercial licenses, as well as other fees.
Manor Township Representative Steve Anderson asked if the new contract would ‘break the bank,’ to which Miller replied that it wouldn’t – especially with the mortgage expected to be paid off by this time next year.
In addition to a new contract, union workers will work with a new healthcare provider – UPMC – rather than United Healthcare. Town and Country Transit will assume a 13-percent benefits cost increase, while union workers will assume the other five percent of the benefits package.
All CDL drivers will report to the same physician.
Those no union representation was present at the special meeting, members reportedly voted 14-3 for the contract.
Though some duplication of contract language was excluded and some bereavement and vacation days were added, Miller said the rest of the contract is similar to those of the past.
Anderson motioned to approve, with Applewold Borough Representative Chuck Nicely seconding it.
Further details of the labor agreement were not disclosed since union members were not aware of yesterday’s action.
Six out of the eight board members were present.