Bus drivers’ union files unfair labor practices complaint against Veolia

October 3, 2011

Press Release:

Order for Dismissing Motion for Temporary Injunction
Circuit Court Judge Michael G. Allen from the First Judicial Circuit Court in and for Escambia County, Florida issued a order dismissing a motion filed by Veolia Transportation, the Management Company that is contracted through Escambia County Board of County Commissioners to manage Escambia County Area Transit. Judge Allen noted in his decision that the Court found that it is without jurisdiction to consider issuing an injunction against the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1395 which has been accused of a “bad faith strike”. Union President Mike Lowery states, “Veolia mislead the citizens the day of the one day strike by saying we were conducting an illegal strike, now the citizens will know that Veolia Management was attempting to do only damage control”.

Veolia Transportation brings in “Scab” Drivers to replace Union Drivers at ECAT

On Saturday, October 1, 2011, Veolia Transportation which manages Escambia County Area Transit has brought in about twenty replacement drivers if the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1395 which currently the labor contract between the two parties has expired as of midnight, Friday, September 30th, 2011. The Union reports that these drivers have been shipped in from other Veolia Transportation properties throughout the United States. Veolia which has stated that no raises are available for Union Transit workers are paying these workers higher wages, the IRS rate of $75 a day for per diem, and it is likely a bonus for assisting Veolia in this labor dispute. Veolia Transportation is also paying for airfare and hotel accommodations daily for these replacement drivers. Veolia spend Saturday and Sunday training the drivers from out of state on the routes provided to Escambia County. “Wow Veolia claims they don’t have any money but suddenly they have round the clock armed security and now they are spending thousands of dollars for “scab” drivers to replace our members who live, own homes, pay taxes right here in Escambia County” states Union President Michael Lowery.

Amalgamated Transit Union takes out radio air time against Veolia Transportation d.b.a. Escambia County Area Transit

The Amalgamated Transit Union International office has taken out radio air time starting Monday, October 3, 2011 against the Veolia Transportation d.b.a. Escambia County Area Transit. The radio commercials will air on the following radio stations: WTKX-FM (101.5), WKRH-FM (96.1), WMXC-FM (99.9)
The commercials will state that Veolia Transportation while refusing to give raises to ECAT employees is still getting their scheduled increase in their Management contract with Escambia County. The commercials will also talk of the miss-treatment of employees.

Amalgamated Transit Union files unfair labor practices against Veolia Transportation d.b.a. Escambia County Area Transit
On Friday, September 30, 2011 the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1395 filed unfair labor practices with the National Labor Relations Board, Region 15 located in New Orleans, Louisiana. The Union filed stating the Employer (Veolia Transportation/ECAT filed a frivolous lawsuit against the Union in retaliation for the protected concerted activity of the employer’s employees under the National Labor Relations Act. Also the Union filed unfair labor practices stating that since the one day strike the employer has engaged in surveillance and created the impression of surveillance, of its employees’ protected concerted activities. Veolia Transportation hired a security company to deploy armed and unarmed guards to patrol and station themselves on the property of ECAT in work areas, break rooms, and other areas where Union employees work and congregate. In the unfair labor practice filed by the Union the Union also states that since September 27, 2011 the employer has threatened to discharge and otherwise discipline employees for engaging in a strike. Which on September 21, 2011 the day of the strike the employer had agreed to bring back all employees unconditionally – Lastly the Union filed unfair labor practice that states on September 30, 2011 the employer has harassed employees in retaliation for supporting a strike. The day of the strike the Union also filed an unfair labor practice that the Employer violated the labor agreement by hiring more part time employees than agreed upon in the labor contract with the Union.

On Tuesday, October 4, 2011 a Federal Mediator ordered both parties to come to the negotiating table. The Union and Veolia Management will meet at 10:00 am at the Rosa Park Transit Complex. The Union plans to meet with their members that same night at the Rushing Plaza Building at 7:00 pm to update their members of the negotiations. “I don’t make the decision to strike, my members make that decision and we will see what they say Tuesday night”. States Michael Lowery, President of the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1395.

The Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1395 sent an email to the Management of Pensacola Bay Transportation which provides the Community Transportation services for the mentally and physically handicapped and elderly in Escambia County and Santa Rosa County which the Union represents the drivers and mechanics. The Union sent an email Friday afternoon before the midnight expiration of the labor contract of the Para Transit workers stating the Union requested to extend the labor agreement till November 30, 2011. The Union as of Sunday, October 2, 2011 states that the employer never responded to the Union’s request. Therefore the Union understands that to mean the employer does not want to renew the labor agreement and therefore the workers at Pensacola Bay Transportation could also end up on strike.

“We’re telling our members at ECAT and Pensacola Bay Transportation to report to work at this time” state Michael Lowery, President of the Union. On the same night that ECAT employees voted to go on strike the members of Pensacola Bay Transportation voted to authorize the Union leadership to set a strike date when they feel it is needed. In November 2005 Pensacola Bay Transportation workers went out on strike for 77 days. That strike was believed to be the longest strike in Escambia County history. Those workers got a 21% wage increase over a three year contract after that strike. “Sadly these workers average wage is still below $10 an hour even with the 21% wage increase over 5 years ago” states Lowery.

“They are the lowest paid unionized Para-transit workers in the country”, said Lowery.

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