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CATS contractor, drivers strike deal
City averts a possible bus walkout
 
Published Monday, December 9, 2013 1:56 pm
by Herbert L. White

Charlotte’s buses keep rolling after all.

Transit Management of Charlotte, which manages the city’s buses and trains, and United Transportation Union Local 1715 announced today they have reached a tentative agreement on a three-year deal. The drivers were reportedly ready to walk off the job this week if a pact hadn’t been reached.

Charlotte Area Transit System and UTU agreed to continue regular bus service while a vote by the full union membership is scheduled Dec. 12. The parties have been in negotiations since the summer.

“We are pleased that TMOC and its employees were able to reach a tentative labor agreement that maintains service to CATS customers,” CATS CEO Carolyn Flowers said in a statement.  “The tentative labor agreement provides for fair compensation while balancing operations costs and maintaining services to our 70,000 weekday bus customers.” 

All bus service – which hauls 70,000 customers daily – will run on regular schedule Tuesday. The Lynx Blue Line, CATS’s light rail service, wouldn’t have been affected as its drivers work under different rules.

TMOC sought binding arbitration over the weekend to break an impasse after 19 negotiating sessions with the bus drivers’ union. The two sides had previously agreed on 25 individual proposals presented by the UTU, but several items remained outstanding. 

CATS contracts with McDonald Transportation, a private management company, for drivers, operations and union negotiations. TMOC, a subsidiary of McDonald Transportation, employs bus drivers, a normal business model for N.C. transit systems to comply with federal and state law.  

Federal law requires public transit enterprises that receive federal funding to allow for the continuation of collective bargaining rights of bus drivers and mechanics.  However, state law doesn’t allow local or state government to bargain with public employees. As a result, CATS drivers and mechanics must work for a private contractor. TMOC employs 599 bus operators and 149 mechanics, which are represented by UTU.

 

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