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POUGHKEEPSIE, NY… Over the last several months, First Transit, Inc. and its subsidiary corporation, Transit Management of Dutchess County (TMoDC), which are contracted to operate the Dutchess County Public Transit bus system, have been engaged in negotiations for a new labor contract with Teamsters Local 445, which represents the bus drivers, mechanics, call center and administrative employees of First Transit.
The original labor contract expired January 31, 2018 and has been mutually extended while formal negotiations have continued. Negotiations have been productive; however, Teamsters Local 445 has authorized a strike despite a generous offer presented by TMoDC that includes double- digit percentage wage increases. Teamsters Local 445 has stated workers may strike as early as Wednesday, April 4th.
TMoDC has offered substantial contract terms that include hourly wage increases of 14% to 33% over two years depending on job classification, increased hourly pension contribution and introduction of new 401K plan with company match, while maintaining the low employee contribution for health insurance (in many cases, employees pay no health insurance contribution). TMoDC has also agreed to desired changes in drivers’ overtime structure as well as other requests.
First Transit Region Vice President Larry Morris stated, “Negotiations have been positive and TMoDC has put a very generous offer on the table, one that rewards drivers, mechanics and all of the other employees of TMoDC for their work and dedication. We have received tremendous support from Dutchess County Government, as county officials are committed to a fair and reasonable contract that rewards employees for their service and ensures reliable public transportation for bus passengers. Both TMoDC and county officials are eager to see this process finalized to the benefit of all parties.”
Dutchess County Executive Marcus J. Molinaro said, “Transit Management of Dutchess County, our transit management company, has engaged in fair and accommodating negotiations. Recognizing the hard work and commitment all the transit employees have demonstrated as we have expanded and enhanced public transportation over the past year, the County has authorized agreement to nearly all union requests, including significant wage increases. We have a great deal of respect and gratitude for our drivers and support personnel. We must, however, balance our responsibility to taxpayers. We are hopeful transit staff will see the benefit of the offer that has been presented and ensure that the public continues to have the reliable transportation it counts on.”
Larry Morris continued, “Our TMoDC employees do a tremendous job every day for Dutchess County Public Transit passengers, particularly over the past year with the expansion of bus service into the City of Poughkeepsie. A lot has been asked of employees and that is why County officials have supported the offer we are proposing, as they share our desire to see these hardworking employees rewarded. The County has sought to meet the requests from employees including significant benefit contributions, changes to job classifications and more lucrative overtime assignments, in addition to the large wage increases – all in an effort to get a contract settled. We are disappointed that the Teamsters Local 445 has not brought this generous offer to a vote of the union members. Should this offer be rejected, however, it is unlikely the County will be able to support any additional requests as it must maintain fiscal stability for county taxpayers, who ultimately support the transit system.”
If a strike is implemented, TMoDC will make every effort to maintain current Dutchess County Public Transit service. However, in the event of a work stoppage, service could be subject to delays and several bus routes will likely be impacted. Passengers are advised to plan for other transportation options if necessary.
Updates and information will be provided continually on the Dutchess County Public Transit webpage at www.dutchessny.gov/PublicTransit. Passengers can also call (845) 473-8424 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.