reported by David Moreau, Alt Leg Representative.
The California Legislative Board meeting was held in Sacramento at the Radisson Hotel on January 6th and 7th. It opened with a salute to the flag and then with a prayer.
Then they talked about drug testing. It dealt with issues they are dealing with in regards to adulterants and if found then it's a failed test.They also taught us the proper way to correspond with politicians as to getting your point across without turning them off. After that they told us about when reporting safety hazards and injuries on the job to get as much detail as possible. Then they discuss and voted on minor by-law changes. Then they had the election for our California Legislative Board. All but two of the incumbents won unopposed.
They are J. P Jones (Director), Mike Anderson (Assistant Director), Vic Baffoni (Chair), Bob Alexander (1st Vice-Chair), Steve Dawson (Secretary), Bob Beck (Vice-Chair), Jim Harford (2nd Vice-Chair Bus Division), Albert Hinojos (Alternate Vice-Chair Bus Division), and Chuck Mack (Alternate Director).
On the second day Chairs from various locals spoke on what was happening in their particular locals with especially good stories from Jim Harford. Also heard about the UTU - BLE battle and how important TPEL is and every local found out where they stood with the California average of 45%. Local 23 is right there at 44% though that number is sure to rise.
Go Here for the article with pictures.
After the 1996 bargaining sessions between UTU Local 23 and the Santa Cruz Metropolitan Transit District, I had a discussion with Human Resources Manager Paul Chandley about finding a different way to bargain. Having been through two separate years of bargaining, it seemed there must be a different way other than spending weeks and weeks going over the Labor Agreement article by article, line by line and having most remain unchanged in the end.
I suggested that next time perhaps each side could just select a number of articles, say five each, with everything else reverting back to current language. He was very interested in the idea.
Two years later, Les White came on board as the new General Manager. I had the same conversation with him and he too indicated an interest in this idea. I also continued to have discussions with Mr. Chandley. The last such discussion was just before we exchanged proposals. I pointed out that one positive thing about traditional bargaining was either side could put in proposals just to provoke a conversation about a problem that was continually occurring. Bargaining was the place to have an in-depth conversation about it and possibly find a solution.
On April 1, 1999 the Union and the District exchanged proposals. These were very traditional "wish list" proposals and we agreed not to get to excited by the aggressive nature of either one. April 14 was the first day of bargaining. We first did a read-through of the contract. The Union had brought sign-off copies of the articles that neither side had made proposals on, as well as a couple that we thought may be easily resolved. We signed off on 12 articles (from a total of 42) that day.
We then had a 90 minute discussion on how the process would work and agreed on a format. We would mutually open three articles: 5, (wages) 10, (benefits) and 25 (length of contract). Each side would then choose an additional 5 articles to open. On the remaining articles, we would spend three days bargaining. At 5:00pm on the third day, whatever articles we had not reached agreement on would revert to current language. We then caucused to identify the articles we would choose.
In reviewing our proposal, the Union decided that we could expedite the process a little more. When we reconvened, the Union put two pieces of paper on the table. One with the number 5 on it, and the other with a number 3 on it. We stated we were willing to go one step further and limit the articles each side could open to three. After a short caucus, they choose three. On May 13th, we concluded the first phase of the 1999 negotiations. We had tentative agreements on 33 articles, done in a total of 4 days.
Medical and Dental Benefits
In June we resumed bargaining. The Committee knew this would be a little tougher because we were talking about wages and benefits. The District was after a cap on the medical costs and elimination of the DMO (the dental equivalent of an HMO). The current carrier, Prudential, had raised the premiums $80,000 this year after another 10% raise last year. They were the only carrier that would offer the DMO and knew the District had contractual obligations to provide for one. Being that we had not heard particularly positive things about the DMO from our members who utilized this benefit, we figured we could work with the District on that issue.
The cap on medical was a different story. In 1994 we had agreed to move from the District's self insured plan (EPB) to the PERS Medical plans. Because we considered that a reduction of benefits and saved the District quite a bit of money, we had quite a bit of resistance to their cap. The District stated at the table that Board had made it quite clear that there would not be a contract without a cap. (I've always thought statements like that were not helpful to the process and could be quite dangerous at times depending on the political and economic climate.) Last year, SEIU (who represents mechanics, customer service and other non-management staff) had to accept a cap, so we knew it was coming.
In the end, we had to decide between two choices. We could accept a cap such as the one SEIU had which was to pay any increase after the year 2000 in the most expensive plan you were in, be it single, 1 +1 or family, or have a flat cap based on the 1+1. We elected to have flat cap which was set at $600. We decided this for a couple of reasons, the first of which is our retirees and our single members. This will protect them from rate increases for some years to come (five years by our projections).
The other reason is that this cap is based on the most expensive plan available. We have 5 members on this particular family plan whereas we have 17 on the single plan, including retirees. Members with families have the option of choosing a less expensive plan, thereby insulating themselves from having to help defray the cost of the premiums. So between the numbers of member affected and the choice available in plans, we felt this was the best choice.
Annual and Sick Leave
The District proposed that our members accrue annual and sick leave on an hourly basis as opposed to the bi-weekly setup we have now. The main caveat in this idea was that one would only accrue these benefits while in paid status. We argued that they could not have it both ways. We felt that one should earn this benefit in every form of paid status, including overtime.
After some discussion they agreed with us. We then defined what paid status was. Sick leave, annual leave and all other paid leaves count as paid status. Things like general leave or waive eights are not paid status.
In general, industrial injury leave is not paid status unless the Operator uses their sick and annual balances to supplement their worker's compensation benefits. In that case an Operator will accrue one third of their accrual rate. This change in how we accrue annual and sick leave will not occur until January 2000. It seems that county payroll is not familiar with the concept of accruing more annual and sick leave time while on overtime. I suspect they are not the only ones.
Throughout this second phase we had been advocating an increase in our uniform allowance. We noticed that other employees (some who work less days out of the week than us) had a higher uniform allowance and we thought we should too. Regrettably, the District didn't see things our way in this instance. We did roll our sunglasses benefit into the uniform, but that was all we could get.
We then discussed wages. We spent the better part of two days arguing about wages. Finally, we ended up with a package the had a 4% increase the first year followed by 3% the second and 3.75 the third year. After settling on the wage increases we went back and took our uniform allowance and rolled it into our wages.
Our reason for doing this was that when we surveyed our members way back in January the top two issue of importance were wages and retirement. The best way to help retirement is to get the base pay up as best you can. Retirement benefirs are based on an employee's highest three years of gross, so we wanted to do all that we could to increase that gross.
Overall I think we did pretty well. At the end of negotiations Mr. Chandley and I agreed we could do better as far as the process goes. The first phase was pretty innovative. In the second phase, we reverted back to more traditional bargaining. Old habits are hard to break I guess. Still, we have a process to build on.
As far as the Committee goes, we are working to explain all facets of the agreement to the membership. Assuming ratification on July 7th, we will take a few days to decompress and then debrief. We have decided that because this is the same Committee that will negotiate in three years we will sit down and write the proposal for 2002 now, while we still have outstanding issues fresh in our minds. We then will have three years to improve on the product. I think we will be ready.
It has been a little more than two months since the District has had a General Manager again . Many of you have met Mr White when he has ridden your route. I met him in the employee lounge at the Metro center. You all know how seldom I am in there.
I think it's safe to say nearly all the drivers find that having a boss who actually wants to run a bus line is a wonderful relief. A relief from all the years of feeling [accurately ] that Operations was an unpleasant appendage; an unfortunate necessity for getting FREE Federal grants for exciting things like buildings, gondolas, etc.
The agenda for the Transit District in the short term is very crowded. Some of the issues that obviously affect us are:
Operations Manager - Someone will be hired quite soon. The Union has been invited to send a representative to the interview team.
Fareboxes - Les finds the farebox situation absurd and intolerable. Something will be done about it this year, after 15 years of playing games. They will buy something off the shelf rather than a custom designed, pie in the sky, automated do everything system that won't be maintained.
Unfortunately, it appears that this will not be in time for the arrival of the new Lo-Flyers this spring. The last I heard, delivery is still scheduled to begin in April. It will take a number of months for all of the busses to arrive.
The worst case would be buying new manual boxes. Equipping the whole fleet with simple mechanical boxes big enough to hold a couple days worth of money costs less than the extra farebox revenue we've had from the increasing ridership.
Routes - Les has noticed that many of our runs in the afternoon run far behind the published schedules. Apparently, most of the Transit world actually measures how long an average trip takes at various times of the day and provides running schedules appropriate. Our system has been wedded for time and all eternity to publishing uniform schedules regardless of time of day. We've had to struggle for separate 'recovery time' to be inserted into blocks at times of day when routes are regularly late. Les has proposed that a complete inventory of running schedules be conducted and published running times be adjusted accordingly.
Drug Testing Rate- The FTA has released the random testing rates that all Transit agencies will be subject to this year. The percentage of employees tested for alcohol is being reduced this year to 10%. This is because the number of positive alcohol tests was less than 0.5% for two years in a row.
Positive drug tests were recorded in 1.5% of all the random tests conducted across the country in 1996. This was reported in spring of 1997 to the FTA. Therefore, the random drug testing rate will remain at 50% of the work force in 1998.
J. David Lyall
We recently met the candidates for General Manager.
Out of 80 applicants the consultants selected 6 candidates to be interviewed by the Board of Directors and the employee representatives.
Four interviews were conducted on Friday, August 9, and two on Monday September 8.
The format for employee participation was that the two labor organizations [UTU and SEIU] designated two representatives apiece and Management designated two of their colleagues for a session of their own.
We had a couple of meetings with the SEIU reps to review suggested questions and plot our approach. Eddie Nelson, Carrie Weech and Jim Hobbes of SEIU met with myself, Ian and Bonnie and decided on a list of 11 questions to pose.
On the day of the first interviews all six of us, as well as Judy Souza and Terry Gale [the computer manager] met outside the hotel formerly known as the Dream Inn. As only two from each Union were to meet with the Board and candidates, Ian and Bonnie went for us, and Eddie and Carrie went for the SEIU.
Brother Hobbes and myself waited on the patio, posing as strategists.
Of the first days candidates the consensus winner was Les White, from Vancouver Washington. None of the other interviewees were deemed desirable, neither by ourselves nor by the management's reps. I performed a web search for "les white" at Alta Vista and found one of the few hits to be our own Local 23 site.
Mr. White has been the chair of APTA for the past year and was at a seminar in San Jose, reported on in another newsletter article which is on our web site.
The second day of interviews took place a week and a half later. Susan Hafner [from Riverside transit] and Mr. Pingree [Utah transit authority for the past 20 years] were the candidates.
The union reps were very enthusiastic about Susan Hafner. Mr. Pingre did not meet with our approval. Although he had more experience, it was all at one agency, similar to our own dearly departed management team.
Ms Hafner was encouraging about empowering front line workers to make the system work better. Mr. Pingre was not too receptive to these sorts of notions.
It must be noted that Pingre was thought to be acceptable by Judy and Terry so they reported to the Board that there were three acceptable candidates. The Union reps reported that we found only two acceptable candidates. You are free to take this up with Ms Souza at your leisure.
Flash! Les White was offered the job on Thursday evening and is being introduced to the employees at the downtown office as I write this on Friday morning, October 3.
On Friday, August 8 1997, the local Teamsters UPS strikers had a picketline potluck. The members of Local 23 had authorized spending $100 for food and beverages to take to our sisters and brothers of the road.
Local President David Moreau cooked two large turkeys, with dressing, which were delivered with much appreciation and fanfare. A half dozen of us Bus Drivers [ also known as Motor Coach Operators ] showed up to show support.
The mood on the picket line is good, but the 1am to 4am shift is reportedly short on occasion. Your coorespondent remembers pulling the midnight to 4am shift on our picket line in 1980, and can confirm that it is a less than glamorous assignment.
The Secretary-Treasurer/Business Agent of local 912 [ Sergio Lopez ] was there and they held a strike business meeting while your UTU members kept the driveway staffed with pickets. Sergio thanked us for our official support for the UPS strikers and for the UFW strawberry campaign. The local UFW campaign is being assisted by the Teamsters 912 office in Watsonville.
A delivery of hot chocolate to pickets in the middle of the night would surely be an appreciated gesture. Try it!
February 28, 1997
As of today, the General Manager is no longer a District employee. The District reached an agreement with Mr Galloway for severance payment and his retirement later this year when he becomes eligible for early retirement.
Two managers in the Engineering department have been given notice of termination. One we have read about in the paper because he took his appeal public. The other (unnamed) manager has a time limit to decide whether to appeal to the Board of Directors or not.
The above is as verbatim as your Base Rep can make it from the presentation made by Michael Rotkin, Chair of the Board. Mr Rotkin went visiting worksites today to inform us all of the decisions of the Board on this matter.
Michael prepared a written statement for us at the request of an employee.
He was at Operations at 2pm. Due to typical confusion, no one at Administration informed Ops staff about these visits. I (yr bs rp) went to the Metro for an 11am meeting with the employees there and learned that Mr Rotkin was intending to come to Ops at 2 pm.
Mr Rotkin made it clear that the Board was not holding the General Manager personally responsible for any wrong doing. They simply concluded that the overall welfare of the District required a new head of staff.
Mr Rotkin told us today that we would have a voice in the hiring question. The Board of Directors will of course make the final decision on whom to hire.
Rotkin further informed us that the Board would be hiring an executive search company to recruit for all three top management positions, and that it would probably be three or four months before a final list of candidates is reached.
On February 20 1997 Ian McFadden and David Lyall attended a seminar at San Jose State University on Labor Relations in the transit industry.
The Norman Y. Mineta International Institute for Surface Transportation Policy Studies was the sponsor of the seminar. The IISTPS (as it is conveniently known) was established in 1991 at the same time as the first Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act (universally known as ISTEA) was passed.
Ron Diridon, a former Santa Clara County Supervisor, is the executive director of the institute. Norm Mineta is, of course, a former Congressmember and former chair of the House Transportation Committee.
There were four formal speakers today, two Union reps and two from transit management. The two Union representatives were Edward Wytkind, director of the AFL-CIO transportation trades department and Sonny Hall, President of the Transport Workers Union. Ed Wytkind is a board member of the IISTPS.
Les White, chairperson of American Public Transit Association, and Sharon Banks, General Manager of AC Transit were representatives of Transit management.
Sharon Banks of AC Transit spoke first. She talked about how her background as a special education teacher, then lawyer, allowed her to drive major changes in labor relations at AC transit. I have spoken with ATU officers at local 192 and they are happy to have a constructive relationship with the management there.
Ms Banks talked about the risks that must be taken by managers who wish to pursue the course of respect. This is no small matter. American management labor relations theory has largely followed the course laid out by plantation overseers centuries ago. This is a well established course and any changes in status quo are frightening, both to managers and workers. Her message to management was that they must truly treat their employees as equals in a relationship.
AC Transit took this to a logical conclusion by inviting Union representatives to sit on the interview panel for hiring new managers. I just learned today that North San Diego Transit has asked the Chair of the union there (UTU local 82) to 'dialog' with the candidates for General Manager.
Sonny Hall is the new International President of the TWU. He spoke about how workers and managers have a mutual interest in helping public transit survive funding cutbacks, but that workers have to eventually see some personal benefit from 'cooperation'.
He correctly laid out the problem that it is all too easy for us as workers to see a constructive relationship between Union officers and management as a negative. His message to us is that cooperation is necessary for survival. His message to the management representative is that Union members cannot be the only givers; our economic needs and working conditions have to see improvements from operating efficiencies.
Les White, the chair of APTA, talked mostly about the re-enactment of ISTEA. There will be considerable struggle about this in the current Congress.
APTA is advocating the permanent conversion of the 1993 4.3 cent gas tax to ISTEA funding, with 1/2 cent of that dedicated to Amtrak. Some congressional leaders are advocating the repealing of 12 cents of the current 14 cent federal transportation gas tax and telling the states to take over all transportation funding responsibilities. These are wildly differing visions of the proper course of public investment in transportation.
Edward Wytkind saw fit to object to an obscure provision related to ISTEA which establishes federally funded State Investment Banks. The objection is that these banks are proposed to be seeded with federal money, then declared independent state 'public/private partnership' organizations which will not be subject to US rules on labor protection or disability access, among other requirements.
This seemed to be news to everyone else present. He then went on to delineate the transportation trades department objections to NAFTA. Previous trade agreements have focused upon manufactured goods. NAFTA, being an agreement on trade in goods and services between continental neighbors, is different. He outlined the difficulties of enforcing US rules on driving hours and minimum wages when the truck or bus driver is a Mexican citizen employed by a Mexican company.
There is apparently a Mexican bus holding company called Tres Estrellas which owns bus lines with 7,000 busses. Greyhound has barely 1,000. This was discussed in January 1997 at our meeting of UTU bus chairs. Mexican bus lines will soon have the legal right to pick up passengers inside the US enroute to US destinations. They have the right today to deliver passengers from Mexican destinations to US destinations. There are UTU members today in Texas who are losing customers (and jobs) due to Autobus Del Norte picking up fares on the way to Houston.
The four speakers ended up forming a panel to discuss the possibilities for future political cooperation. The aim? Preserving funding for public transit. The possibilities of forming public interest coalitions around this issue were discussed. AC Transit and the Labor Unions had a campaign to pass a parcel tax in their service area which would be dedicated to 'transit safety'. In the election there was a 66.02% vote in favor of this transit tax. In today's California, that loses by 0.65%.
On January 14, 1987 I attended a meeting of all the Bus General Chairs in North America. This meeting is held every four years and is specified in the UTU constitution. The constitution technically calls it a meeting of the Association of General Chairs, District 4 (the Bus Department.).
The only real accomplishment of these meetings is to allow the Chairpersons to meet each other. This is the only forum (aside from occasional training sessions at the George Meany center) for this.
There is a new bus property in the Union, Las Vegas Grey Line. The meeting being in their home town was nice. A regular meeting of the new local was held on monday night, the night before the Chair's meeting. Unfortunately I didn't hear about it until the next day, but J.P Jones, our State Legislative director (who you met at the Holiday party in December) attended, as did Karen Belcher, General Chair at North San Diego Transit.
Las Vegas is the third Grey Line property to be represented by the UTU. San Francisco and Seattle Grey Line are also UTU members and both of those Chairpersons were in attendance.
International President Charlie Little gave a short presentation at the beginning of the morning session. There was no real word on merging the UTU with another Labor Union, but he did talk encouragingly about doing more organizing of bus properties.
The International is going to have an internet presence finally. They will put up a web site sometime in the first quarter of this year. Two years ago or so they started a proprietary bulletin board type system for the General Committees to use. I knew that this would be a dead end, and now it has proved to be so.
All of you with internet (or aol, compuserve, prodigy, etc) connections should know that we have had a web page for almost two years.In Solidarity, J. David Lyall
The American Public Transit Association had their tri-annual meeting this October in Anaheim. Along with meetings for Management types there was an Expo of equipment suppliers and vendors to the industry of various types.
Your Committee of Adjustment wanted one of us to go to this Expo to see for ourselves what type of equipment is available. The continuous delays and general do-nothing attitude of SC Metro towards our equipment situation made this seem desirable.
In order to effectuate this desire to the fullest, I went to Orange County on Tuesday nite and returned on Wednesday nite, with a visit to the Expo in between. Much of the Expo was devoted to rail gear. I judged that more than half was rail or construction management related. Of possible interest on the rail side was a self contained diesel rail coach from Seimens of Germany. I have been told that this Seimens piece will be in Santa Cruz for the next First Nite celebration.
The Transit Bus manufacturers who were present were New Flyer (much beloved by us), Nova bus (making the erstwhile GMC busses), Orion, Neoplan and Gillig. Some smaller manufacturers who mainly produce school and hiway busses were also there, along with MCI/Dina.
I spoke with some of the New Flyer people about our try out of their Lo-floor model last month. They are concentrating on Lo-Floor models now, altho the conventional may still be in production also. They even build a 60 foot articulated Lo-Flyer.
Nova, who produces the RTS model (GMC Coach's new tech model 15 years ago) as well as the original 'New Look' GMC coach (our old Gimmy's) has a very nice Lo-floor model also. I found the doorway and entry way area of the Nova model to be slightly more spacious than the Flyer. It is possible that this results in greater front overhang, however, which could make it less useful to us. The Nova has the powertrain in the left rear corner of the bus, which is similar to the Orion which was demonstrated to us last year.
This corner mounted engine is used with an offset differential from ZF, allowing the low floor to extend past the axle, unlike the Lo-Flyer.
Some experimental equipment was interesting as well. Both ZF and Rockwell were showing electric motors which are mounted ON the wheel of a bus. These may be powered by a heat engine driving a generator, or a battery pack. Hybrid models with diesel and turbine heat engines were there. A fuel cell power plant was also demonstrated. Hydrogen and oxygen are used in a fuel cell to produce electricity and water.
The Rockwell axle drives use a Knorr electric motor with a 90 degree reduction gear while the ZF motor is actually on the wheel spindle for a more compact setup. The ZF people sniffed that Rockwell sells Italian copies of ZF equipment, including transaxles.
A representative of the Italian company Breda (who makes the Muni Metro rail cars) said that the axle motors are not yet reliable enough for his firm to use. Overheating is a problem it seems.
Fareboxes? Everyone uses GFI and they were there with the fareboxes that everyone uses, including magnetic strip cards. Their representative was well familiar with Santa Cruz and our 15 year farebox saga. We are a common joke, it seems. He said that Mr. Dorfman has been talking to him and that some year we may actually be buying some.
I was particularly pleased to find a company which supplies wheelchair tie down equipment. If you had time to look at the Lo-Flyer you may have noticed the 4-point tie downs on that bus. The system on our Champions is a joke compared to that. Ortho Safe Systems builds ratcheting systems with a metal case and a nice big knurled knob for tightening down the strap. Normal seat belt strapping and buckles are used to attach to the chair just like the two-point systems on our Flyers.
These tie-downs are US made, strong and well designed. The set up on our Champions is actually packing crate gear, a total joke.
Another interesting piece of equipment was a cow-catcher device to go in front of the wheels of a bus. This is designed to push fallen humans out of the way of the wheels. An excellent idea, and the cost is only about $1500 per bus.
This expedition to the APTA Expo was actually worthwhile. We'll certainly be advocating the replacement of the Champion tie-down gear.
At the June general meeting we reported to you that negotiations looked to be as tough as the 1994 sessions. The attitude of the management reps was just as disrespectful, just as fierce. We asked at that meeting that urgent preparations be started for disruptions and industrial action of imaginative sorts. A Solidarity Committee was formed at our request to make suggestions for such imaginative actions.
In the end, we had a tentative agreement a day early, on Saturday evening, June 29. What happened, you may ask? We had threatened months before to tape the negotiations, either video or audio. They told us that they would not allow any recording of any negotiations. Why would they object to a true record of what was said? You figure it out.
Thanks to the members foresight we had a sufficient war chest of cash to work with. For the second negotiations season in a row we had a $20/month assessment for negotiations expenses. With those resources we were able to have our lawyer (Chris Platten, a former Union rep for the Retail Clerks, currently called UFCW) attend one of the negotiating sessions. He gave some useful advice on a technical discipline issue and the management reps were more polite. He told us (in a private session) that they could indeed refuse to allow electronic means of recording the negotiations sessions. He also informed us that they could not specify how many people could attend negotiations, merely how many that they would release from work and/or pay for lost time.
I had thought earlier of asking a friend, a retired Court Recorder, to come and do that court recorder thing. When Chris Platten told us that electronic recording could be refused, he also answered that human recording, with a certified Court Recorder, could not be objected to. Refusing to allow that would be an unfair labor practice, refusal to bargain.
We then called a commercial Court Recorder service and ordered up some services. A Court Recorder is the person who sits with a little mechanical shorthand machine and writes down (most) everything that is said at a meeting, court hearing, deposition, arbitration session, etc.
The first day that we had the Court Recorder present was also the first day that we met away from SCMTD property. You will recall that the managers refuse to meet with us at Operations, where we work. Neutral territory was called for. We made reservations at the Holiday Inn for a conference room and had the Court Recorder show up at the appointed time. We did not inform the management that we were ordering the sessions recorded (by human means, not electronic).
When the District showed up at the Hotel and saw the Court Recorder present they at first refused to come into the room. I informed them that we would not talk to them without the recorder present. After a few minutes they consented to come and meet with us.
The fact that there would be an exact record of the proceedings had a tonic effect upon the subsequent meetings. The reason that we wanted such a record was to have documentation of the intent of the language. This is very important in the event that there are subsequent disagreements, as in greivances which go to arbitration. A bonus was that the management started being more polite and reasonable. This affect was not entirely anticipated, but was welcome nevertheless.
We met for three days at the Holiday Inn, and the next week for six days at the Dream Inn and had a tentative agreement that we could recommend to the members.