Members of Transport Workers Union Local 252 in Nassau County, Long Island overwhelmingly ratified on January 9 a five-year contract with Veolia Transportation for the nation's largest contracted transit system.
TWU members voted 450 to 68 to approve the contract. TWU Local 252 represents about 800 employees working at Nassau Inter-County Express, or NICE, which is owned by Nassau County, and operated by Veolia Transportation under contract to the county. Members are mainly bus operators and mechanics who recently became employees of Veolia Transportation when it assumed operations of the former Long Island Bus on January 1, 2012. The transit system serves about 100,000 daily riders
Prior to January 1, 2012, these TWU members were employees of the New York MTA (Metropolitan Transportation Authority), which operated Long Island Bus for more than 39 years under contract with Nassau County. As Veolia assumed responsibility for all aspects of transit operations under contract to the county, Veolia made job offers to every eligible TWU member who had worked on Long Island Bus and applied to NICE.
In a press release issued by TWU Local 252, Union President Patricia Bowden said, "We all worked very hard under a very tight timeline to reach a new agreement. This contract is a major step forward in protecting jobs, health care and retirement." She continued, "It's a winning scenario for everybody to have TWU members, with years of experience, on the job doing all we can to provide quality service to our passengers."
"We're pleased with the result and believe the contract gives both parties what they wanted. NICE customers are also winners as they will have a high quality, experienced workforce providing bus service," said Mike Setzer, a Veolia vice president and CEO of NICE. "The NICE workforce is a great group of transit professionals and we're proud to be on the same team with them."
"This partnership between the county, the TWU and Veolia is positive for passengers, employees and county taxpayers," said Ken Westbrook, president of Veolia Transportation's Transit Division. "The discussions that led to this agreement established a positive atmosphere of mutual respect and collaboration that will continue to grow and help ensure quality service."
Last year, Nassau County decided to end its agreement with the MTA and through an RFP process selected Veolia with which it has formed a public-private operating partnership to run the county bus system. This partnership delivers the best of both worlds: public sector oversight and control with elected leaders from the county determining policies, budgets and overall direction, combined with Veolia managing all aspects of operations, bringing its expertise, technology, operational processes, and efficiencies to improve performance.