AMALGAMATED TRANSIT UNION LOCAL 1395
1720 W. FAIRFIELD DRIVE, SUITE 307
PENSACOLA, FLORIDA 32501
May 10, 2012
To: Honorable County Commissioners, Board of County Commissioners, Escambia County
From: Michael A. Lowery, President/Business Agent, ATU Local 1395
Re: War on Workers at ECAT / Union announces campaign against First Transit
Dear Honorable Commissioners:
As you know the new contractor First Transit is now managing ECAT since April 1st, 2012, taking over from Veolia Transportation. Since taking over First Transit has provided Group Health Insurance to include dental, vision, and life insurance which has now caused an increase to the workers at ECAT for office visits and out of pocket costs while visiting the doctor versus our previous coverage under Veolia. Since taking over First Transit has attacked the scheduling of hours for Trolley Operators who work on the extra board. Since taking over First Transit has now taken away coverage for Health, Dental, Vision, and Life insurances for Part-time Bus Operators.
First Transit has also maintained the same mid-management staff which under Veolia caused so many problems on a daily basis for the workers. With just over a month the same old tactics are again happening at ECAT with the problems of pay issues, intimidation of workers by supervisors, and even some mid-management describing workers with vulgar language during meetings and in the dispatch area to other employees. The manipulation of our labor agreement continues and morale is back to the level we suffered under Veolia. Current General Manager Mary Lou Franzoni ignores continued requests for discussions and meetings with the Union.
This is another foreign based Company that uses the same tactics to wage a war on the workers that provide the service to the citizens of Escambia County. During the transition while Veolia attempted and to some degree destroyed documents, information, and basically the ability for First Transit to run the service. It was the workforce that kept the service running smoothly without a hitch. The professional bus operators and mechanics ran the system and kept Escambia County moving.
During the transition it was the Union that stepped up and assisted First Transit with employee applications, background checks, drug testing, basic information to include seniority, vacation time, sick leave time, and we signed employees up for the Health Insurance and 401(k) plan. We gave as much information to the Company as we could and extended the olive branch.
While the Union focus is now to get a dedicated funding source for Mass Transit in Escambia County to assist the people with better and more service, the Company has done nothing to communicate to this issue with the Union. The Union’s focus is to help create jobs to local businesses and help the County with their general budget deficit. I state to you that the Company’s focus has been to wage a war on the workers and create an atmosphere of total control and lower the standards of the work force. We are tax payers and we contribute to this community as homeowners and our children and grandchildren go to our public schools. Most of our members of ATU Local 1395 are life time citizens of this community. We’ve invested into Pensacola and Escambia County but that same statement can’t be said about First Transit with their three employees who appear to be just renters and using this job as a stepping stone to another future job within First Transit.
First Transit based out of the United Kingdom is another private transit company that has only one objective and that is to gain a profit off the backs of the workers. With this letter I announce that while the ATU Local 1395 had begun a campaign to educate the community on Mass Transit and fight for a dedicated funding source to run ECAT – we’ve now been forced to shift gears and begin a campaign to educate the public on how another foreign based Company is sucking the life out of workers and the taxpayers of this community.
I hope that you’ll consider looking into this matter and assist the workers of ECAT. As you know many of our members have well over twenty and thirty years of experience providing Mass Transit to the citizens of this community. The workers don’t deserve this and we will not allow this to happen again.
Michael A. Lowery
Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1395
Cc: County Commissioners via email
Assistant County Administrator
Members of ATU Local 1395