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CapMetro subsidiary makes ‘final’ offer to union members

Monday, September 15, 2008 by Austin Monitor

Officials with the company that deals with Capital Metro’s unionized employees say they have made their “best and final” contract offer to the members of the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1091. The announcement came after two days of talks last week between union representatives and negotiators for StarTran, the contractor that actually employs most of Capital Metro’s bus drivers and mechanics.


“From our perspective, we feel that we have addressed the major concerns the union brought to the table,” said Terry Garcia Crews, general manager of StarTran. “There are approximately 11 areas of obstacles…and out of the 11 areas we basically took the union’s suggestions on seven of those 11, so there was major movement, I believe, on management’s behalf.”


Health care costs are one of the major points of contention in the contract talks. Garcia Crews said the company’s latest proposal includes some changes in response to concerns previously expressed by the union. Currently, employees do not have a health care deductible. StarTran proposes phasing in deductibles, starting with a $100 deductible for individual employees in 2009 and moving up to $300 for an individual in 2011. The union suggested that phase-in to lessen the financial impact on employees, according to Garcia Crews.


“Basically, we heard them. We have implemented that in terms of a possibility for them, and in doing that we did have to ensure that we were keeping the total financial package whole,” she said. “That means we did have to adjust the wage increases in those particular years…and that decreased the wage increases slightly compared to the previous offer.”


The current proposal still includes a $1,000 signing bonus for employees. However, instead of the 3.5 percent pay raise for the 2008-09 year that was part of the previous offer, the latest contract offer includes a 3 percent pay raise. The proposed raise for 2009 was lowered from 3.25 percent to 3 percent, and the proposed raise for 2010 was maintained at 3.25 percent.


“We’re at our best and final offer,” Garcia Crews said. “What has been communicated to us is that there is a desire to have additional questions answered, and we will be awaiting those questions. From that point forward if, there is a desire to possibly meet again… we’re willing to do that. But the bottom line is we are basically where we are going to be.”


ATU President Jay Wyatt said the union was not satisfied by StarTran’s proposal.

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