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TCAT's bus operators and maintenance team, represented by the United Auto Workers Local 2300, Friday, March 9, overwhelmingly ratified a 2 ½‑year‑contract following several months of negotiations.
The previous 3‑year contract expired Sept. 11, 2011. After the UAW‑represented work force twice rejected the contract in both September and November, negotiators from both sides finally were able to craft and communicate an agreement acceptable to UAW rank‑and‑file members who voted 48‑16 to accept it.
"We are pleased and relieved that we now have a contract in place that ensures that our union‑represented bus operators, maintenance team and custodian are adequately compensated for the hard work and professionalism they demonstrate day in and day out" said TCAT General Manager Joe Turcotte. "We hope our passengers, and the community as a whole, can rest assured that all TCAT employees operate as a unified team in providing a critical service to the community."
Jack Kaminsky, UAW Local 2300 president, echoed Turcotte and said: "We are happy the contract was ratified and now we can all move forward."
The contract calls for a bonus of $500 payable March 29, 2012; a $525 bonus in 2013; and a 1.25 percent wage increase in 2014. The contract expires June 30, 2014. TCAT's bus operators make between $36,000 and $44,000 per year before additional compensation for overtime and shift differentials. Mechanics' annual base wages range from $42,000 to $51,000.
The increases were based on TCAT's ability to adopt a dual‑option health insurance plan for the next 2 ½ years, which helps keep premium costs at bay. Modest increases in co-pays and deductibles were part of the new plan.
"Despite a less‑than‑robust fiscal climate - and at a time when most Americans are paying more for health care - we worked together to create a fair and solid contract to the very best of our ability," Turcotte noted. "I applaud the hard work of the negotiating team representing both union and management."
In 2011, TCAT broke ridership records for the fifth year in a row with nearly 4 million annual trips. According to the latest data available for 2012, ridership is up by 8 percent.
"I am delighted that our UAW members ratified the contract
as they are critical to TCAT's success," said Pam Mackesey, TCAT Board of
Directors Chairperson. "We now need to focus on making sure TCAT's financial
future is on solid ground so that TCAT can continue to thrive and grow."