TribLIVE

| News


 
Larger text Larger text Smaller text Smaller text | Order Photo Reprints

Westmoreland County transit union unhappy in talks

Friday, May 24, 2013, 12:01 a.m.
 

Drivers and mechanics for the Westmoreland County Transit Authority could take a strike vote in the summer if negotiations for a new labor contract produce no results, union officials said Thursday night.

More than two dozen members of the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1738 gathered for a meeting of the transit authority board to complain about the pace of negotiations and safety and maintenance concerns with the bus fleet.

Rank-and-file members are employees of National Express Transit, the private company that holds the contract to operate the authority's bus fleet. The union, which represents 59 drivers and mechanics here, has been working without a contract since August.

“We're still in the early stages of negotiations. We haven't even reached the economic issues. That's how bad it is,” said John Costa, international vice president of the New Jersey-based union.

National Express is in the third year of a five-year, $12.4 million deal to run the authority's bus system, which has seen steady increases in ridership for more than a decade.

Costa said the union wants to avoid a strike vote, but labor talks with the company have been unproductive. Union members could vote to strike after the next negotiating session, scheduled for June 17, Costa said.

Mike Rushin, chief operating officer for Chicago-based National Transit, declined to discuss specifics of the talks.

“We've been negotiating here in good faith,” Rushin said.

The authority operates 23 weekday and Saturday routes. It carried nearly 50,000 passengers in April and more than 472,000 riders last year. Transit authority officials told union members they will have no involvement in the talks.

“It's a private personnel matter,” Chairman Frank Tosto said. “We can only encourage everyone to negotiate in good faith.”

Union members complained that the 43-bus fleet is unsafe, poorly maintained and dirty. Rushin denied those allegations.

“We take safety very seriously. I believe we are putting safe vehicles out on the road,” Rushin said.

Authority Executive Director Larry Morris said he monitors the bus fleet's safety records, and he is satisfied there are no unsafe buses on the road.

“They've been responsive to the issues brought to them,” Morris said.

Rich Cholodofsky is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at 724-830-6293 or rcholodofsky@tribweb.com.

 

 
 


Show commenting policy

Most-Read Westmoreland

  1. Machine operator avoids serious injuries in accident in North Huntingdon
  2. Expansion in works for Mt. Pleasant Glass Museum
  3. 1 dead, 1 injured in Derry Twp. crash
  4. Harhai campaign emails from 2007 under review, Westmoreland County DA says
  5. Energy company responsible for polluting Donegal well appeals state’s finding
  6. 40-year-old Latrobe woman used boy, 13, for sex, drugs, police say
  7. Police: Penn Township man was ‘lonely,’ so he called 911
  8. Southmoreland High School junior’s broken jaw ‘could have been avoided’
  9. Latrobe school directors won’t forgive bill for WCCC land
  10. Greensburg finalizes deal to provide sign language interpreter for soccer program
  11. Former Pagans leader works out plea agreement
Subscribe today! Click here for our subscription offers.