Union Complaints May Halt Bend Transit Funding
Union Complaints May Halt Bend Transit Funding For Immediate Release By Jonathan Hunt, President
The Union representing Bend Transit employees has filed a grievance and unfair labor practice against the transit system contractor. A complaint is also being filed against the City of Bend who receives federal funding to operate the system.
The Portland-based Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU 757) filed the action against Paratransit Services, Inc. for terminating the employment of customer service representatives, dispatchers, receptionist, schedulers and bus washer. The Union contends the work is covered by a collective bargaining agreement between the Union and Paratransit Services which expires January 31, 2014.
"Terminating these employees and giving the work to another employer, in this case the Central Oregon Intergovernmental COuncil (COIC), violates not only our collective bargaining agreement with Paratransit Services, but also the Federal Transit Administration Section 5333(b) (formerly Section 13c) Agreement between the City of Bend and ATU 757," said Jonathan Hunt, President of the Union.
The City of Bend is the recipient of federal funds, and as a condition of accepting funding, agreed to certain labor protections including protection of employment should the covered work be given to another contractor. "Contractors awarded the city transit operation are required to comply with the FTA Section 13c requirements, and failure to do so may result in interruption of federal funding received by the City," said Hunt.
The City of Bend currently contracts with COIC to operate the city transit operation, and COIC contracts with Paratransit Services to provide employees to run it. On November 29, 2011 a law firm representing COIC informed the Union that it was cancelling its contract with Paratransit Services effective January 31, 2012. COIC informed the Union that it would be operating the service, that all current Paratransit employees would be hired and the current collective bargaining agreement between the Union and Paratransit Services would be honored by COIC.
Then, on January 9, 2012, Paratransit Services, without prior notice or negotiation with the Union, informed employees that they were being terminated and would be able to apply as new employees of COIC, losing all employment rights and protections.
“They can transfer these employees to COIC as long as they honor the employees’ collective bargaining and Section 13c rights,” said Hunt. “Short of that, they have a rain storm coming and our first move will be to halt federal funding of the system until they come into compliance.”