Despite concerns to the contrary, Denton County Transportation Authority bus drivers were behind the wheel Monday morning.
There had been rumblings of some driver shortages due to a labor dispute between members of the Amalgamated Transit Union Local Division 1338 and their employer, Transit Management of Denton County Inc., which provides some of the bus drivers for DCTA.
Officials were able to overcome the contract dispute and are set to sign a new deal.
The contract between the local union and Transit Management expired March 31, and since then negotiations had been ongoing between the contractor and the union to get a new deal signed. That deal included a pay increase for drivers, which the drivers wanted to be retroactive to the day of the first contract expiration, but the company at the time did not budge.
“We did go back to mediation on Friday afternoon to reach a resolution [but] we left mediation without reaching one,” said Kenneth Day, president of the local transit union. “I guess sometime after leaving mediation, the company went back and reconsidered. I received an e-mail stating they will sign the contract that was ratified by the members to include the retroactivity back to April 1.”
While Day has not put pen to paper on the new three-year contract as of Monday afternoon, citing the union’s legal counsel being tied up in court, he anticipated it being done soon.
“We had never planned on disrupting service. We had planned an informational picket, but the union never conveyed to its members to disrupt service,” Day said. “There was an option to it, but we were not quite there.”
Maureen Richmond, spokeswoman for First Transit — the corporate arm of Transit Management of Denton County — said that the officials are pleased to have reached an agreement.
“We look forward to continuing to supply safe and reliable service for the Denton County Transportation Authority.”
Dee Leggett, vice president of communications and planning for DCTA, said officials were grateful there was no impact on services and things ran smoothly Monday morning.
“While significant contingency planning had taken place and DCTA and First Transit were prepared to handle any level of labor shortage, we would not have been able to do that without impacting customers,” Leggett said. “I think the resolution … shows that First Transit and ATU also have our customers’ best interests in mind.”
BJ LEWIS can be reached at 940-566-6889. His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org .