SamTrans Reaches Three-year Agreement with ATU

The San Mateo County Transit District has reached agreement with the agency's bus operators and maintenance workers for a new three-year contract that calls for a two-year wage freeze and employee contributions to health care and pension plans.

These changes will help enable the District to stay within its adopted budget for the current Fiscal Year 2012.

"This new agreement is fiscally constrained and reflects the tough times we are in," said SamTrans general manager Michael J. Scanlon. "But it also reflects the spirit of shared sacrifice that has long characterized the men and women of this agency. As public employees, we share the concern of all that we spend the taxpayers' money responsibly, but that we run this agency in a manner that allows us to continue to provide services so critically needed by our customers."

The new agreement, effective Sept. 6, 2011, calls for a wage freeze in the first two years. The third year of the contract calls for a 2.5 percent wage increase, assuming no significant changes in the economics that affect passenger fare and sales tax revenues.

Under the new agreement, employees will begin contributing to the monthly premium costs for health coverage – 3 percent in the first year, an additional 3 percent in the second year and an additional 4 percent in the third year, a total of 10 percent phased in over three years.

Employees also will begin paying a portion of the employee contribution to the PERS retirement system. Under the new agreement, employees will pay 2 percent in the first year, an additional 2 percent in the second year and an additional 1 percent in the third year, a total of 5 percent phased in over three years.

The changes in healthcare and pension contributions also will apply to non-represented employees.

The new agreement also establishes a second-tier retirement program. Currently, employees receive a pension calculated at 2 percent at 55. Once the new retirement program is established, new employees will receive a pension calculated at 2 percent at 60.

"We can get through these hard times by working together, all of us pulling on the rope in the same direction. What makes that possible is fairness – sharing the good times, sharing the hard times together," Scanlon said.

The San Mateo County Transit District employs a total of 667 employees serving three agencies consolidated into one organization: SamTrans, the bus and paratransit provider for San Mateo County; Caltrain, the Peninsula commuter rail service; and the San Mateo County Transportation Authority, which implements the proceeds from a half-cent sales tax dedicated to transportation projects in San Mateo County.

Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1574 represents the 383 operators and maintenance employees. In the prior two years, this unit received previously negotiated wage increases, while non-represented employees received their last salary increase in 2008.

The SamTrans board of directors on Wednesday unanimously approved a 2.75 percent wage increase to non-represented employees and the Customer Service Center employees.

This is the first labor contract for the 23 Customer Service employees, who voted to join the ATU in 2009. They were subject to the wage freeze affecting non-union employees.

In another negotiation with Teamsters Local 856, which represents bus transportation supervisors and bus contract inspectors, a tentative agreement has been reached. A membership vote on the contract is scheduled for later this month.

There are 20 employees in the bus transportation supervisors unit of the Teamsters Local 856 and two employees in the bus contracts inspector unit of the Teamster Local 856.

There are 239 administrative or non-represented employees.

The new contract is the latest in a continuing series of steps taken to reduce spending, budget efficiencies and enhance the fiscal sustainability of the agency.

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