CAPITAL REGION : CDTA, workers agree on contract
Raises contingent on increase in revenues
The Capital District Transportation Authority and its employee union have approved a two-year labor contract extension that ties future raises — if any — to CDTA seeing increased revenue.
The agreement with Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1321 will run from June 2013 to June 2015, starting after the current labor contract expires. While there’s a strong possibility of no pay raises for the employees, it includes some improvements in their health insurance coverage.
“The agreement is a solid one for CDTA, for our employees and for the labor-management relationship,” said CDTA Executive Director Carm Basile.
The CDTA board, meeting Wednesday in Rensselaer, approved the agreement, which was ratified last week by the union members in a 228-164 vote.
The board also approved a $5.97 million contract that locks in the diesel-fuel price for 2013-2014 at $2.96 per gallon. The contract could backfire if diesel prices are lower then, but officials said the two contracts together give the authority financial stability for 2013-2014.
“We’ve got a big chunk of our budget we can be certain of going forward, and that helps a lot,” said board member David Stackrow of Troy.
CDTA, which provides bus service for Albany, Schenectady, Saratoga and Rensselaer counties, has been in tight financial straits for several years because of federal and state aid being frozen. There was an increase in state operating aid this year for the fi rst time since 2007, but not enough to prevent a planned 7 or 8 percent reduction in the workforce. NO GUARANTEED RAISES
The transit workers just received a 3.5 percent raise to start the final year of a labor contract signed in 2009. Management asked the union to consider an extension past the current June 2013 expiration, and the union agreed.
Under the extension, no raises are guaranteed. But if revenue from operating aid and the mortgage tax rises 5 percent a year, employees will get a 1 percent raise; if revenue rises 7.5 percent, they will get 2 percent; and if it rises 10 percent, they will get 3 percent raises.
“At least there’s the possibility of a raise,” said Steven M. Green, president and business agent for the union local. “Basically, we’re saying to the labor force that if we do well, you do well,” Basile said. “It is one of the most innovative contracts in the industry.” The 575 employees represented by the union will get improved dental and eyeglass insurance coverage and CDTA will increase its contributions to the employee pension plan.
The agreement also allows CDTA to contract out up to 75 percent of its STAR service for people with special transportation needs. Overall, CDTA leaders say the agreement will save CDTA $2.3 million over two years.
“I think it’s going to serve both the employees and CDTA well,” said CDTA board Chairwoman Denise Figeroa.
Wages and benefits account for about two-thirds of CDTA’s annual budget, which is just under $75 million this year.
Diesel fuel accounts for about 8 percent of the budget. With diesel now costing below $3 per gallon for the first time since 2010, procurement staff recommended locking in the current price for 2013-2014.
CDTA is currently locked in to a contract through next April at $3.14 per gallon. The new contract awarded Wednesday to Mirabito Energy Products of Binghamton locks in a price of $2.96 per gallon for the 12 months starting in April 2013, even if prices are otherwise higher by then.
“It’s peace of mind,” Basile said.