For first time in nine years, ATU local in Buffalo wins a contract

BUFFALO, N.Y.–Ending a nine-year struggle, Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) Local 1342 finally achieved a new contract with the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority (NFTA), Western New York Labor Today reported. Members ratified it 498-297.

The 4-year pact includes an overall 17.25 percent wage increase, local President Jeff Richardson said on July 14.

The contract, retroactive to 2009, covers 1,100 workers at the transit system, which serves Buffalo and its suburbs. They include bus and light rail drivers, mechanics, electricians and clerical staff. The first-year raise is 11 percent, followed by raises of 2 percent, 2 percent and 2.25 percent in the remaining three years, Richardson said.

That retroactive payment of 11 percent in year 1 could equate into anywhere from $1,200 to $6,000 per NFTA employee, depending on the number of years worked, he said.

The union also agreed to a change in health care payments, from being totally paid for by the transit authority to 10 percent payments by workers, starting Jan. 1, 2019, Richardson added. But the maximum co-pay will be $230 monthly, and retirees’ co-pay will be zero.

“We met regularly” with transit authority negotiators and “we were willing to go in and negotiate with an open mind in a ‘we’ mindset.  There were also a lot of people behind the scenes who did a lot of work and we are eternally grateful,” Richardson said. “Our membership is happy” with the new deal. “They’re ready to move on and they’re excited to get a raise.”

Local 1342 waged a public campaign to spotlight its lack of a contract. It included high-profile billboards, informational picketing of homes of NFTA board members and protests outside NFTA job fairs. The local targeted the system’s riders, and also garnered wide support from elected officials and other unions. NFTA played into its hands with a final offer – which the union beat back — with “an unbelievable six zeros in terms of yearly increases.”

Source: PAI