Media contact: Bob Bean, 602-495-9466 or 602-326-8743
PHOENIX, AZ - Some Valley Metro commuters might have to find a new way to get to work. Today bus drivers, overwhelmingly rejected Veolia Transportation Service’s “best and final” contract offer today, by a vote of 96% (no) - 4% (yes).
The down vote of members of Local 1433 of the Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) puts drivers on a collision course with the company managing the bus system, setting the stage for a possible strike.
“We don’t want to strike, and abandon the people of Arizona who rely on public transportation to get to and from work, school, and other daily tasks,” asserted Local 1433 President Bob Bean. “We stand ready to negotiate a fair contract, but we cannot accept an agreement in which we make less five years from now than we do today.”
One of the contract provisions rejected by bus drivers would spread a 3% wage increase over the next five years, while increasing their health insurance premiums more than that, resulting in a net loss.
Veolia's “best offer,” explained Local 1433 Vice President Michael Cornelius, “is nothing more than a concessionary contract. They want to put money in one pocket and take more out of the other.” The corporation, however, isn’t doing any belt-tightening at the management level.
The salary of Veolia’s general manager in Phoenix was recently increased from $134,000 to $180,000. He also gets a $15,000 bonus, a free apartment, and plane tickets every other weekend to fly home to Las Vegas. The company has also added two new Phoenix assistant general managers who earn a combined $240,000.
The company’s U.S. transportation division generated $1.4 billion for thecorporation last year, and compensation for its CEO totals $2,208,858.
“This is the same type of corporate greed that has decimated America’s middle class and brought our nation’s economy to its knees,” said Bean. “It’s time for management to bargain in good faith and recognize the commitment, sacrifices, and hard work of our drivers.”
Phoenix bus operators have been working without a contract since October 3, 2010. Since then Local 1433 has filed numerous charges with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) for bad faith and regressive bargaining. The NLRB agreed with ATU and issued a complaint against Veolia on all of the charges filed by the local.
On July 23, just one day before Veolia was scheduled to appear before an administrative law judge, Veolia conceded to all charges. Nevertheless, the company is still demanding concessions from its employees.
ATU is currently negotiating contracts for four other transit bargaining units andnone of the talks are close to an agreement.
“We care about our passengers and we will do everything we can to avoid an interruption in their service,” said Bean. “However, we are willing and able to do what is necessary to get the fair and just contract that we deserve.”
About the ATU
The Amalgamated Transit Union is the largest labor organization representing transit workers in the United States and Canada. Founded in 1892, the ATU today is comprised of over 190,000 members in 264 local unions spread across 44 states and nine provinces, including 3,000 workers at Greyhound Lines, Inc. Composed of bus drivers, light rail operators, maintenance and clerical personnel and other transit and municipal employees, the ATU works to promote transit issues and fights for the interests of itshard-working members.
Amalgamated Transit Union, AFL-CIO
W. 202-537-1645 x254