Community Transit succeeded with Proposition 1 which will bring approximately 47 Million dollars into the agency per year. I for one did my share of phone banking and banner waving working on Prop 1. Next there was a 42 Million dollar grant of Federal dollars which will be earmarked for the Swift 2 project, provided that the bill passes in congress. Finally, there will be money available from the State for transportation funding. The biggest change has already occurred, bringing back Sunday and Holiday service. The lack of Sunday and Holiday service was the most frequent complaint that I heard from passengers. The Union was never in favor of eliminating that service and protested before those service cuts were made.
At the meetings Emmett talked about what all this means for the agency which of course includes First Transit in Everett and Senior Services. The projected growth will include buying new coaches, hiring more employees and facility expansion. Some of this growth will include new routes and adding more trips to existing routes, providing earlier starting times and ending later at night. The growth is staggering including buying approximately 167 new coaches over the next 6 years. The agency peaked at their highest service level in 2009, we were told that that level would be reached again in 2018. The six year plan calls for sustainable growth which means the intent is not to grow so fast that lay-offs would have to occur. We have already heard ads hiring operators, mechanics and other positions in King, Pierce and Snohomish Counties. Community Transit has added more than 120 new faces in since February of 2014.
CT’s new CEO is committed to having a good relationship regarding contract negotiations with both IAM and ATU. We represent the largest number of employees at Community Transit, First Transit Everett and Senior Services. Because negotiations have taken 18 to 24 months, Emmett has no objection to meetings starting earlier than required by the contract and completed quicker than it has in the past. When I was elected into office in 2007, negotiations hadn’t even started until the end of October, two months prior to the expiration of the contract. The Union leadership is committed to bargaining in good faith.
This year President Custer is bargaining 4 contracts which includes Island Transit, First Transit Lakewood, Community Transit and Senior Services. The plan is to have all membership meetings for each of these properties for members to have an opportunity for input into the negotiation process. Historically, these meetings are well attended. Most of these meetings will fall on Sundays. Often times those who are not coach operators complain that negotiations are all about drivers. This is not true, sections in the contract regarding vacation, leaves, attendance, retirement and insurance and such affect everyone. We will also be meeting with the smaller work groups where there are sections in the contract referring to them. These meetings will be open to the entire work group.
The service expansion and new rounds of contract negotiations brings new excitement and an opportunity for a bright future for both the agencies involved and our union membership. We look forward to the new growth and working to bring you the best contract that we can.
Best regards and be safe. Rick M. Jurkovic, Vice President