Friday, September 18, 2015

UPDATE: 2-Year Deal Between Teamsters, Sun Tran Cost $4.36M; Kozachik, Cunningham Demand Transparency

Posted By on Fri, Sep 18, 2015 at 10:38 AM

click to enlarge MARIA INÉS TARACENA
  • Maria Inés Taracena

The two-year agreement that ended the 42-day Sun Tran bus strike cost $4.36 million, and it includes wage raises for all employees and complete health coverage, according to a media release from the Teamsters Local Union 104.

The deal between the Teamsters and Professional Transit Management—the company that oversees Sun Tran—grants raises ranging from 30 cents an hour for some workers to more than $5 for others, as well as 100 percent monthly health and welfare premiums. Also, each employee will get a one-time payment of $3,303.37, and the agreement has a provision that requires an annual distribution of any savings from Sun Tran’s annual budget that could provide every employee the "potential to receive additional hourly wage, or hourly pension increases in October of each year."

The Teamsters call the new contract a dramatic improvement from the previous Sun Tran offer—which would have cost $2.7 million. This one resulted in the "immediate action by Tucson's City Manager (Michael Ortega) to remediate and resolve once and for all the serious mold contamination that exists in Sun Tran's north facility and on the buses, and also resulted in immediate action by the city manager to order and install Plexiglass partitions in buses on selected routes identified as being greater risks to driver safety," the release says. 

Up until now, details about the final deal, approved by a vote of 351-41 Wednesday night, had been kept secret. Both Sun Tran and Teamsters negotiator Andy Marshall did confirm that, in terms of finances, fuel savings (roughly $500,000 that were returned to the general fund during the fiscal year) and strike savings (strikers didn't receive a salary from Sun Tran while they were picketing) were used in the negotiations. Marshall said the city budget was not reopened, and that no money was taken from any other department.

The deal's documents haven't been released by either party yet.

Councilman Steve Kozachik told the Tucson Weekly that there isn't any reason why this deal shouldn't be made public. Transit is funded by $30 million of taxpayer money, therefore the plan should have been transparent, and either Sun Tran/Professional Transit Management or the Teamsters should publish the agreement. 

In a joint statement with Councilman Paul Cunningham, the pair said:
Just after 1am on Wednesday morning, Sun Tran/TransDev and the Teamsters signed a tentative agreement ending the labor dispute. Later that afternoon, the settlement was ratified by Local 104. It's great to see the buses rolling once again. 

The settlement involves the expenditure of nearly $30M in public money. Taxpayers deserve to see how their hard earned money is being spent. The terms of the settlement should have been posted online by both TransDev and the Teamsters immediately following ratification. Now, two days later, the public is still waiting.

 It is inexcusable for the parties to this settlement to refuse making the precise terms of the settlement public. We call on the parties to the agreement to post the terms on their respective websites immediately.
Marshall has said that they didn't want to go into much explanation about the deal over issues with Tucson Police Officer's Association leadership, who've said the bus drivers "don't deserve anything."

Yesterday, Kozachik said in a statement to the media that he hopes the more-than-a-month-long strike serves as a push for the city to reexamine how the city funds and manages the transit operations.

"Too many of our constituents and too many budget decisions depend on how we address those issues for us to allow a simple return to the status quo. I look forward to joining my colleagues, city staff, our management team, the union and the community in taking time to address these significant issues in a measured and thoughtful manner," he said. 

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