The Rapidian

ATU members approve new contract

Amalgamated Transit Union Local 836 which represents most of The Rapid's bus drivers and mechanics voted in favor of a new contract to settle a long dispute with The Rapid.
Rapid CEO Peter Varga and ATU Local 836 president RiChard Jackson greeting each other at the transit millage watch party

Rapid CEO Peter Varga and ATU Local 836 president RiChard Jackson greeting each other at the transit millage watch party /John Rothwell

After being without a contract for more than twenty-seven months, Amalgamated Transit Union Local 836 which represents most of The Rapids' bus drivers and mechanics voted in favor of a new contract on Thursday. The new contract is a three year deal that will start upon ratification by The Rapid Board. Prior to Thursday's vote there were two other ratification meetings in which a contract offer was voted down by ATU members.

The Rapid' released the following statement through email on Friday. “The Union successfully ratified the new tentative agreement last night. However, the board of directors has not ratified the agreement yet. The board will convene for a public meeting tomorrow morning at 10 a.m. at Rapid Central Station to discuss the tentative agreement and vote on ratification. Pending the outcome of the board’s decision, we will be releasing a statement immediately following the meeting, after which Peter will be available for comment.”

According to ATU Local 836 President RiChard Jackson, Union representatives met with the company on November 27, 2017 where they had some very direct and upfront conversation about how to resolve the issues with the company.  The bargaining parties were able to reach a tentative agreement.

On December 3, 2107 a telephone town-hall style conference call was held among ATU members explaining the agreement.  Ratification meetings were then held in the morning, afternoon, and evening of December 7, 2017 with union membership passing the vote in upwards of sixty percent.

“It has been a long road and there was mixture of feelings between the members where some wanted to keep fighting,”  Jackson said.

”The reality is we passed it and we are going to move as family and rebuild on that family. We have some more work to do.”

During the period of no contract many employees faced financial hardships between pay and healthcare costs, some with healthcare premiums as much as $900 a month.  

“I don't think we are happy with it more so than we are relieved that the expense of the insurance is going to go down and people are going to get their raises.” said Rapid driver and Union Activist Louis Deshane. “But at the same time we feel like we had no choice but to cave in."

Rapid Board chairwoman Barbara Holt responded through Facebook Messenger with this statement. “I am very happy that the Board is scheduled to ratify the union contract tomorrow. At this very important time of the year, we are giving our employees, not only added benefits, but the assurance that they are valued and that they are the essential component to keeping the Rapid rolling in the region.”

 

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