Westmoreland County transit union unhappy in talks
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 email@example.com.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- 7 arrested in Latrobe-area drug dealing
- Police: Woman tried to start fire at neighbor’s house in Derry Township
- Woman admits to theft of 2 weapons in Latrobe shooting case
- Woman to stand trial in Jeannette tot’s death
- Psychologist’s compassion buoyed students, friends
- Bank seeks to foreclose on Eastern Derry Twp. VFD
- New Stanton council hikes garbage fees to $13.65 per month
- Westmoreland County sheriff won’t alter staffing as cash runs out
- Higher property taxes in Westmoreland County ruled out despite $15M budget gap
- Homewood man faces drug charges after chase in Trafford
- Former SCI Greensburg headed for auction block