Bus Union Contracts Extended To Sept 30; Transit Company Pushes For Worker Wage Cuts While Upping Execs' Pay and Perks

Categories: Shop Talk
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No deal has yet been reached between Veolia Transportation, the company that operates Phoenix city buses, and the three unions that represent its employees.

They have extended their contracts through September 30, pushing back further the possibility of a bus strike.

Negotiations continue with Veolia negotiators wanting to slash workers' compensation as much as 40 percent, eliminate most of their accrued sick leave, and create a lower pay scale for new employees.

Union reps are resisting. One might leap to the conclusion that Veolia is proposing such drastic, unavoidable cuts to stay afloat during tough economic times.

But that isn't the picture that Andy Marshall, an executive officer with the International Brotherhood of Teamsters Local 104, painted for the Phoenix City Council on Tuesday.

He told elected officials that while Veolia was asking employees to take major pay cuts, it has increased the salaries for local executives in charge of the Phoenix city-bus contract.

New Times asked Veolia spokeswoman Erica Swerdlow for comment earlier today, but hasn't yet heard back.

It isn't that Veolia is hurting for money, rather that it low-balled its bid for the Phoenix contract to make sure they landed it, and is now trying to make up the difference on the backs of employees, Marshall said.

Non-union employees already lost about 40 percent of their pay, had to give up about $600,000 worth of accrued sick leave, had to reapply for their jobs and sign a legal document promising they would not sue Veolia to recover any of their lost benefits.

Meanwhile, Veolia's previous general manager in Phoenix made $134,000. Under Veolia's newly awarded city-bus contract, the general manager now pockets $180,000, plus a $15,000 bonus, a free apartment in Phoenix and plane tickets every other weekend to fly home to Las Vegas.

Veolia added two new assistant general managers that earn a combined $240,000.

Veolia's former maintenance manager made $85,000, but the new person in that position gets $158,000, plus a $15,000 annual pension payment and a company car.

He also said that Veolia included a clause in one proposed contract that would allow it to outsource employees' jobs at its discretion. Even as Veolia executives are in the midst of negotiations, they have already solicited bids from other transportation companies and told labor leaders that if they didn't agree to Veolia's terms by September 30, they would simply bring in new workers.

"This isn't about money," Marshall said. "It's about our job security."


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5 comments
Travelmapa
Travelmapa

This is all getting old. Something needs to get settled now. It's not like the employees are asking for anything huge here. Tired of the politics/BS

James Washington
James Washington

James Washington: Our union is very customer oriented. We are trained by our brothers and sister's that represent us that without the satification of the customers the union and the company cannot exist. We donot have leadership, or top management like companies do we are a democratic union like our country is. Almalgumated Transit Union along with the other two unions are looking for a fair contract that the operator's deserve and the riding public deserves these profesional operator's to run Valley Metro Routes. We are aware that the public has sufferd enough threw raises in fares and cuts in service. Our operator's have family member's that also experienced these cuts and fare hypes. All we want is what is fare to feed our families like anybody else would. It is not fair that Veolia Executives get caught padding Upper Managements salaries and then try to push the labor's in a corner to make up the difference.One must ask is the company trying to force a strike in order to make up the difference of their low ball bid and their Executive and Upper Management pay raises. Enough is enough, I am not a racist by far. Do you think this French based company would put their public rider's in a scare and their citizen's in France with uncertainties of a possible strike. The American people have suffered enough and so has our economy. The citizens of Arizona cannot sit back and watch Veolia suck the blood out of our nation and pad their pockets as the evidence shows and then wants to give our public rider's this picture that they are dealing in good faith. Let us look at the track record of Veolia and the city of Phoenix that is letting this happen. First, their was cut's in service, then there was fare hypes and now their is evidence of Veolia Executive and UpperMangement receiving outrages raises. Where is the justice for the riding public and operator's that are the front line players in this unfair treatment. I will tell you, public transit rider's late night services are left stranded and early morning at 3:13AM - 4:30AM are left stranded due to budget cut's. The operator's that do the service are also being asked to take a hit. Hell the only people that are not being asked to take a hit is the Top City Officials and Veolia Executives and their Upper Management. When it is all said and done they get raises while the customer gets a cut in service and the operator's are being forced to give up existing benifits which they already have and Veolia is trying to slash starting wages. So once again Veolia the ball is in your court Executives and Upper Management ask yourself do you really think the evidence that has been presented is good faith barganing it looks like you all are union busting and trying to force a strike. Would you do this if the majority of the public transit riders where your family or your fellow Executives.

ATUVP
ATUVP

I am the Vice President of ATU Local 1433 and we represent the bus operators over at Veolia. We stand with the Teamsters Local 104, representing the fuelers and cleaners and the Operating Engineers Local 428, who represent the mechanics. What we want the general public to know is that we are not really even having these issues over what the Unions are asking for, we are having these issues over what we already have. Veolia is a french company who under bid the contract so heavily so that they would beat the compatition, First Transit. The counted on the unions making DRASTIC concessions at the table to make up for their gamble. We have not entered into this to strike or to leave you stranded. We are not looking to take take take, we are looking for a fair contract that protects employees jobs, while allowing them to continue to feed their families like you feed yours. Veolia cannot justify these concessions while at the same time giving increases to their top level management. Take from this what you will, but know that we are doing everything that we can to avoid leaving the city stranded without transit. We cannot in good faith allow our members to suffer as the French get richer.

wherewasi
wherewasi

I take the bus to and from work. If there is a strike, it would be a major inconvenience to me, but I do have a car and I can drive, though I would prefer not to. However, many people rely on the bus as their only means of transportation. This is not fair to them. Valley Metro tells these people to "prepare" for a strike by considering alternative transportation means, such as car pools and taxis. Are they friggin nuts? Do you really think that most of the bus riders would be bus riders if they could afford cars, car pools and taxis? This is a vile situation that puts the most vulnerable people in a difficult situation.

Furthermore, I know from personal experience that those drivers have to deal with some real problems face to face. It takes a special kind of person to drive those buses and remain friendly and on time in spite of the nonsense (and sometimes danger) they encounter every day.

It angers me to know that fares have gone up, service has been cut so they've already cost us, the riders they serve. Now they want to cut more from the rank and file staff who are the front line in order to pad their own paychecks and benefits? What is it that they do that so benefits us, the riders? I would say get rid of half the management, ad a recognition program for drivers with excellent safety and public image records, and put some experienced drivers in charge of designing the routes and schedules - drivers know how long it takes to make it from one end of town to the other during peak traffic. Apparently management must make the runs at 2:00 in the morning to determine how long it takes from one time point to the next.

And yes, I have on occassion called Valley Metro with a compliment about drivers who know what service with a smile means. I have also called with complaints about some who are more suited to the job of night watchman or astronomer -

If Veolia's management underbid for the contract, I think that's management's problem; Not the drivers', not the mechanics' and not the riders.

James washington
James washington

James Washington: Back to bullying, This is what Veoilia is good at. It is very hypicritical for you to fire your lower management and start your new lower management off at a lower wage than your prior existing management. To make matters worst you hire new Veolia Executive Crooks in your Higher Management which includes General Manager's, Assitant GM's, and Maintnance Manager's at a much higher rate of pay then your past existing crooks. Does this make any sense. A first grade student can figure this one out,so can us bus operator's. Why don't you smart executives at Veolia Transportation make a clause to subcontract out your executive positions out to a private contractor and why don't you get new workers to do your jobs at corperate and any levels of management and cut you guy's pay. Like the Operator's,you Executives should furnish the company and the union with a recall list of all the executives and uppermanagement that has been layed off. Let the union and the company call them back in inverse seniority when the business picks up. This is just a food for thought to help save the company money and make it a fair playing field for all the employees at Veolia, including your lower management. It a shame that you Executives have the union representing all your employees that you executive have ripped off. I have yet to see any higher Executive of Veolia be put on a recall list or being told that their piece of work is being subcontracted out to inexperience Executives at a lower pay. So why would we threaten our operator's with this concept and be willing to give pulic transit riders non experienced operator's to do their routes. The reason being is because Veolia Executive Crooks wants to line their pockets at all cost and the main cost is off of the lowest labor's the operator's,this is prime example of the rich get richer and poor get poorer,unionreps stand firm and if the company wants any subcontractor's please suggest that they start at corperate wages this would save alot of money so that some of the lowest paid operator's in the U.S.A. have a chance to make a descent wage like the executives that are asking operator's to take cuts in benifits and wages. Thanks in solidarity James Washington

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