Groups hit roadblock

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Union shuttle, bus drivers work on deal with company

Members of the Amalgamated Transit Union’s Local Division 1338 are hoping to get past a financial roadblock with Transit Management of Denton County Inc. so the services they render for the Denton County Transportation Authority can continue running smoothly.

The contract between the local union and Transit Management expired at the end of March, and since then, negotiations have been ongoing between the contractor and the union to get a new deal signed.

Negotiations seemed to be progressing well until an issue with pay surfaced, said Kenneth Day, president of the transit union’s local division. While drivers would get a raise with the new contract once it is signed, the union wants the increase to be retroactive to the date of the first contract expiration, but the company is not budging on that, he said.

Some of the employees drive for both the DCTA bus services and the University of North Texas Shuttle.

“We’re still in a holding mode. I am being told they are still trying to make the decision on their end,” Day said.

The Amalgamated Transit Union’s Local Division 1338 has been in operation since 1942, Day said.

Because of the management contract DCTA has with Transit Management, the drivers are not considered public employees and have all the traditional rights of private contract employees, including collective bargaining and the right to strike.

Day said a conference call between the two sides and a federal mediator was attempted for Tuesday but was not successful.

“We agreed to, in the beginning, any increases to the employees’ wages would be made retroactive to the date of expiration of the old contract,” Day said. “They are trying to say they did not agree to pay and do not owe it, so that puts us at an impasse. Otherwise we thought we had a pretty good package; the company was negotiating in good faith.”

Day said that some members had issues with insurance rates.

“Insurance is always a tough issue to deal with in any negotiations. Employees were not happy with increases to premiums, but that is standard across the country,” Day said. “The only thing we have right now blocking us is the company going back on their word to pay the retroactivity.”

Michael Chinn, general manager of Transit Management of Denton County, said he was unable to comment on the negotiations or contract status of the union members.

There are about 95 drivers affected by the agreement, Day said. The drivers are still working their regular routes and schedules.

“The last thing we want to do is bring any kind of hardship to the public or employees,” he said.

But while he is hopeful things will change, Day said union members are considering options on how to move forward. One option is to file unfair-labor charges against the company, he said, or to have an informational picket to let the public know the company is not negotiating in good faith and the mistreatment toward the employees.

Dee Leggett, DCTA’s vice president of communications and planning, said agency officials are actively monitoring the situation.

“We’re working with [the] DCTA general counsel to determine what impact, if any, this contract situation would have on DCTA operations,” she said. “This is something we’re obviously paying close attention to.”

BJ LEWIS can be reached at 940-566-6875. His e-mail address is blewis@dentonrc.com .


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