Monday, March 8, 2010

How can they do this at a time like this?!

Daniel sent this to me today. He works for the University of Alabama and this has been a recent issue with their bus service. Read the article below (discussion will follow):
First Transit Seeks to Continue Negotiations with ATU to Avoid Crimson Ride Service Interruptions
Previous offers not presented to membership by union representatives.
CINCINNATI — First Transit, Inc., a leading private provider of transit management and contracting services, seeks to clarify recent statements made in the press regarding their ongoing negotiations with the Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU). First Transit believes their recent proposals to the union reflect both the market rates for drivers and the revenue generated by the Crimson Ride contract.

“We run our University of Alabama transit service in a very fiscally responsible manner, with the lowest possible cost to the customer and the highest level of customer service. We value the relationship we have with the University and are pleased to provide this service for students,” said Matt Wood, senior vice president, First Transit Contracting. “In regard to the ongoing discussions, we have negotiated in good faith with union representatives since September and are working to reach an agreement that is fair and equitable, especially considering the current economic conditions.”

Union representatives have refused to take First Transit’s most recent contract offer – which included a wage increase of 4 – 9%, guaranteed health care benefits and additional paid time off – to their membership for a vote. Instead, they are demanding wage increases of more than 20% in a time when a record number of people are unemployed in the region.

First Transit senior management is currently on site to continue discussions with union representatives and is willing to meet at the union’s location of choice. Unfortunately, union representatives have not yet confirmed a meeting for this weekend.

First Transit wishes to continue negotiations and avoid any disruption and inconvenience to their customer and the students they transport. First Transit has made arrangements to bring qualified, licensed drivers from other areas of the country to assist as necessary to ensure the Crimson Ride will run at full service levels with no interruptions.

First Transit sincerely apologizes for the impact this uncertainty has on Crimson Ride passengers.

I, for one, believe this is ludicrous. I heard that the bus drivers were getting at least $9.25/hour. That's way above minimum wage and, to me, it's not a very hard job. You drive a big bus (okay, so that may be a little difficult), you have the same route you drive numerous times during your shift; you stop, pick up students, you drive to the next stop, drop/pick up students, etc. etc. You do need a CDL license, but not a college degree to do this job. I'm sorry, I'm really not trying to say that these people are below me by any means. Their job is definitely necessary. It just seems that these people would look at the world and economy around them and feel blessed that they even have a job!

I'm a state employee. I will not get even a cost-of-living raise until God only knows when because of proration. The University of Alabama is a state school. They are also under proration. (We know this too well as Daniel wasn't even able to get a raise since he began working there about 2 years ago). I am not complaining at all because I am very glad to have a job. The state is not hiring anyone new. I got in just before proration hit.

Well, this sums the situation up: Union representatives have refused to take First Transit’s most recent contract offer – which included a wage increase of 4 – 9%, guaranteed health care benefits and additional paid time off – to their membership for a vote. Instead, they are demanding wage increases of more than 20% in a time when a record number of people are unemployed in the region. First transit appears to actually be giving them a raise in an age where it's hard to even get a job and knowing that they are not getting any more money from the University. I think they are going above and beyond in this situation while the bus drivers can only complain. Am I wrong? What do you think?

2 comments:

  1. Mandy,
    Several things come to mind.
    At first glance, I do not think you are wrong.
    If the going rate of salaries is below the 9.25 you mention (even for first year drivers) then I would want to reconsider.
    And, I can imagine that part of the reason that the union is fighting for 20% has to do with that same idea that jobs are hard to find, the University is a constant job, and with the job decline in recent years most of the drivers are likely single income earners. Those three factors make it a more two-sided conversation, but may not justify the significant askings by the union.

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  2. Well, a normal cost of living raise is between 3-6%. 4-9% that First transit is proposing is better than that. 20% is a lot.

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