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Ending A Nine-Year Struggle, ATU Local 1342 Finally Achieves A New Contract With The Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority That Features An Overall 17.25% Wage Increase

The Four-Year Deal That Covers 1,100 Unionized NFTA Workers - Who Are Employed By The Public Transit System As Bus & Light Rail Drivers, Mechanics, Electricians & Clerical Staff - Is Actually Retroactive To 2009

Published Friday, July 14, 2017
by WNYLaborToday.com Editor-Publisher Tom Campbell
Ending A Nine-Year Struggle, ATU Local 1342 Finally Achieves A New Contract With The Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority That Features An Overall 17.25% Wage Increase

(BUFFALO, NEW YORK) – Ending a nine-year struggle, Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) Local 1342 has finally achieved a new contract with the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority (NFTA), which includes an overall 17.25% wage increase, Union President Jeff Richardson tells WNYLaborToday.com this morning (Friday, July 14th).

The four-year deal covers 1,100 Unionized NFTA Workers - who are employed by the public transit system as Bus and Light Rail Drivers, Mechanics, Electricians and Clerical Staff – and is actually retroactive to 2009.  The new contract calls for an 11% wage increase in year one and subsequent raises of 2%, 2% and 2.25% in each year of the remaining three years, Richardson said.  That retroactive payment of 11% in year one could equate into anywhere from $1,200 to $6,000 for an NFTA Employee, depending on the number of years worked, he said.

“I’m just ‘happy and proud’ of my Executive Board for ‘getting it done,’” said Richardson, who became President of ATU Local 1342 in January after serving as the Union’s Vice President and Recording Secretary for the past several years. 

“We met regularly (with the NFTA), in fact twice, recently.  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,’” he said.

Richardson told Your On-Line Labor Newspaper that Local 1342’s Membership has already ratified the new contract by a vote of 498-to-297 and that the NFTA Board of Commissioners will vote on whether to accept the contract later this month, on July 27th. 

“I ‘don’t foresee any problems’ (with the NFTA voting positively on the new deal),” he said.

Over the past several years, the ATU had waged a public campaign to focus a spotlight on its lack of a contract with the NFTA.  From high-profile billboards to informational picketing held outside the homes of NFTA Executive Board Members to protests outside NFTA job fairs seeking new Drivers, the Union’s took its message to the public and specifically to the NFTA’s ridership.  And - if the lack of movement at the negotiating table wasn’t bad enough - the NFTA’s last contract offer contained an unbelievable six zeros in terms of yearly wage increases. 

“Our Membership is happy (with the new deal),” Richardson told WNYLaborToday.com today.  “They’re ‘ready to move on’ and they’re ‘excited to get a raise.’”

Another area that was of concern to the NFTA in the contract negotiations was Health Care.  The ATU Local 1342-represented Workers had never contributed to the health care costs, which was totally absorbed by the NFTA.  However, in this contract, Richardson said Local 1342 Members have agreed to pay 10% of their health care costs, but their contributions will not officially start until January 1st, 2019, he said.

“In the end, our Members will pay ($39.5 a week) for a family plan and ($14.71 a week) for a single plan.  And the overall cost ‘will never go as high as’ ($230 a month).  They will only have to pay a co-pay.  And, when our Members retire, their health care ‘will continue at no cost – they will make no contribution,’” Richardson said.

On another front, Richardson said with a new contract in place and better pay, the NFTA – which has had a tough time attracting new Employees, should have more people interested in coming to work at the public transit system in the future.

On yet another front, ATU Local 1342 also issued a statement thanking all those who supported the Union “with manpower, political support, and countless resources for a hard-fought campaign:”

A heartfelt thank you to: Buffalo Comptroller Mark Schroeder, New York State Senator Tim Kennedy; New York State Assemblyman Michael Kearns, Chris Scanlon and the Buffalo Common Council; U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer; Larry Hanley and ATU International; ATU Local 268 in Cleveland, Ohio; The Western New York AFL-CIO Area (WNYALF) Area Labor Federation - especially President Richard Lipsitz and Staffers Chris Borgatti, George Borger and Peter DeJesus; President John Mudie and the Buffalo AFL-CIO Central Labor Council; Kirk Laubenstein and his Staff at Coalition for Economic Justice (CEJ); GiGi Tyson and Buffalo Transit Riders United; the Partnership for the Public Good; the Coalition of Black Trade Unionists’ (CBTU) Robert Mootry; New York State AFL-CIO Representative Angela Blue; Western Region Six President Flo Tripi and the Civil Service Employees Association (CSEA); the Communications Workers of America (CWA); the Teamsters; the Service Employees International Union (SEIU); and all other Unions that joined us on the picket lines!

And a special thank you to ATU Members Shaun Szejnar and Demetrious Evans for their hard work and dedication to our cause.

The Labor Movement is the backbone of this country and the solidarity that we continue to build shows that we will overcome any and all obstacles we face!

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