On Wednesday night the union members of the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1395 approved and accepted a tentative agreement reached between the Union negotiating team and the Management of First Transit which manages the Escambia County Area Transit fixed route bus system on behalf of the Escambia County Board of County Commissioners.
With the ratified agreement and 90% of the union membership approving it, a strike was adverted. “We are pleased that we reached an agreement and especially pleased that ECAT transit workers finally received security at the workplace and we can now continue our focus on improving and expanding our bus service for our bus riders” stated Union President / Business Agent Michael Lowery.
The final agreement had significant improvements for the transit workers. Effective and retroactive from October 1, 2013 all Union workers will receive a 3% across the board raise. Plus in the 3 year agreement they will receive a 3% increase in 2014 and 2015. One of the main concerns of the transit workers was to receive Florida State Retirement. While no agreement was reached, both the Union and Management agreed to focus on working toward a Transit Authority to oversee the Mass Transit throughout the panhandle. With a 4 cent gas tax to take effect January 1, 2014 the goal is to create a Regional Transit Authority over five counties. If obtain the Union workers would then under State law receive the State retirement system. The Union did increase the current 401(k) employer contribution to 5% and in 2015 to 6%. Plus the Union secured improvements in Group Health Insurance for active employees and a monthly cash payout from age 60 to 65 for retirees to pay for Health Insurance. While there other improvements for the transit workers, it was noted that they had not had a raise since 2008 and the prior labor agreement had been expired since 2010. “We will now focus on improving the workplace for our Para transit union members who work for Pensacola Bay Transportation, they transport our mentally and physically disabled citizens, elderly citizens, and citizens that are covered under the Americans with Disabilities Act. It is time to improve not only the treatment of the drivers but those who ride this service which is currently failing our community”, said Lowery.
The new labor agreement is from October 1, 2013 through September 30, 2016 for ECAT workers. Pensacola Bay Transportation workers have gone since 2008 without a raise and the contract with the ATU Local 1395 and Pensacola Bay Transportation has been expired since 2009. In April of this year the ATU exposed unsafe vehicles by providing photos of Pensacola Bay Transportation buses with Department of Transportation safety violations. Currently Escambia County Board of Commissioners are considering to remove the County ADA contract from Pensacola Bay Transportation and put out for bid or require ECAT to run the servic