GRANITE CITY – Agency for Community Transit on Wednesday outlined the wages and benefits being offered to members of the Service Employees International union, who have so far rejected contract offers.
Since last December, ACT and SEIU Local 1 have been engaged in negotiations for a new, three-year collective bargaining agreement.
Local 1 represents approximately 200 ACT drivers who operate fixed-route and Paratransit bus service for the Madison County Mass Transit District in Madison County.
The parties met seven times (Dec. 14, 2017, Dec. 20, 2017, Jan. 11, 2018, Feb. 12, 2018, Feb. 21, 2018, March 15, 2018, and May 11, 2018). When the parties were having difficulties reaching an agreement, a mediator from the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Services was engaged to aid the negotiations.
The mediator participated in the last four of the seven bargaining sessions.
Although ACT made its final offer on Feb. 21, 2018, the agency returned to the bargaining table on March 15, 2018, and developed a revised final offer that resolved concerns about health insurance and added sick time provisions for both full- and part-time drivers.
During the negotiations, the parties reached tentative agreements on several issues. Despite these improvements, the union rejected the contract on March 25.
ACT met with SEIU again on May 11 and offered to accept a union request regarding Paratransit’s bidding of work. The final package offered by ACT included:
Wages: Wage increases of 60 cents per hour for this year and each of the next two years, culminating in a top wage of $25.10 an hour. That figure would make ACT drivers among the highest paid transit operators in the St. Louis region, ACT said in its statement.
Health Insurance: Part-time drivers were offered the same health insurance, the union’s best plan, (including dental and vision) that is provided to ACT’s full-time drivers.
Sick time: Part-time drivers would be eligible for sick time and full-time drivers would accrue sick time more quickly.
ACT’s final offer “included a solid financial package, representing one of the only contracts in the region to extend full-time health insurance benefits to part-time employees,” ACT said. ACT’s part-time drivers receive the same paid holidays as full-time drivers and are also eligible to participate in the 401(k) retirement program. The total economic benefit of ACT’s final offer, for the first year alone, is more than 6 percent.
“While ACT believes that the offer should have been accepted, the final package was rejected based on SEIU’s recommendation and was beyond ACT’s control. ACT hopes that SEIU will reconsider its position and will ratify the proposed contract,” ACT said.
A representative of SEIU sent an emailed response late Thursday.
“Local 1 members voted down a proposed agreement with ACT on March 25. They urge ACT to return to the negotiating table to bargain in good faith. Local 1 drivers are ready to do whatever it takes to win the contract they need to support their families,” the statement said.
— The Illinois Business Journal