Drivers and maintenance workers at the Franklin Regional Transit Authority, members of amalgamated UE Local 274, combined their formerly separate contracts and bargaining units into a single contract in their recent negotiations. Previously, the two groups had bargained separately, and not always at the same time.
The previous contracts had prohibited boycotts, picketing and other forms of concerted activity during the life of the contract — limiting the union's ability to put pressure on the company during negotiations. That language was removed, and replaced with a prohibition on lockouts by the employer.
Despite the transit authority facing a significant deficit due to state budget cuts, UE members won raises of 1, 2 and 2.5 percent over the three-year agreement.
The new contract also contains a number of improvements around scheduling. It commits management to provide as much contiguous break time as possible. If workers are called in to work, management now has to tell them approximate duration of the assignment and what duties it will entail, and they will receive a minimum of three hours' pay. Training outside of normal work hours will be paid at time and a half.
Management also agreed to meet and confer with the union over holiday schedules before they are announced and before any alternate scheduled are considered, made or posted.
The union won improvements to grievance procedure, which now includes expanded Weingarten rights and allows grievances to be filed at a higher step based on what level of management has the authority to adjust the grievance. The contract also includes improvements to the discipline and discharge procedures, and management has to give the union 14 days' notice of any new rules or policies.
The entire design of the current healthcare plan will remain the same, despite a change in carriers, and the union negotiated an insurance buyout in which the employer will pay up to 100 percent of the cost of going on a spouse's plan so long as it doesn't exceed 50 percent of the employer's cost.
The contract improves the life insurance from $9,000 to $12,000 and disability from $425 to $500 per week. Disability will now be paid per disability rather than annually. Workers will also be able to use their accrued paid time off to make up the difference between their workers' comp check and their regular gross pay.
The employer will now pay for the physicals and driving record reports that are needed to maintain commercial drivers' licenses, and workers can get the physicals done on the clock.
The union improved the non-discrimination language in the contract, which now contains all protected categories recognized by the state and federal governments, including gender identity and genetic information. The contract was also changed to use gender-neutral language throughout.
The negotiating committee consisted of Tara Hopper, Bill Anderson, Gael Wakefield and Gerry Tylunas. They were assisted by International Representative Chad McGinnis.