Media Advisory FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: October 3, 2006 FURTHER INFORMATION: Patricia Harris-Morehead, (615) 880-3943 or Wendy Smith, (615) 862-6194 MTA Union Cancels Contract Extension; Announces Work Stoppage on Monday NASHVILLE – Earlier today, the trustee for the Amalgamated Transit Union (Local 1235) notified the Davidson Transit Organization that it was canceling the current labor contract extension that was agreed upon in October 2005. The cancellation is effective Monday, October 9, 2006, according to the letter, which also announced a work stoppage on Monday. The ATU represents bus drivers and mechanics at the Nashville Metro Transit Authority. Officers for the Davidson Transit Organization, the employee management arm of the MTA, have been negotiating in good faith with the ATU bargaining team since September 2005. “We are very disappointed the ATU is planning to disrupt the lives of so many people who depend on us to provide transportation services in our community,” said Nashville MTA Chief Executive Officer Paul J. Ballard. “Here we are having recently cut bus service due to a $1.65 million shortfall in an extremely tight budget year, and they are threatening to authorize a strike.” The ATU bargaining team indicates they are willing to authorize a work stoppage due the following unresolved issues: 1. Sick leave – ATU is demanding more paid sick leave. 2. Unexcused absences – ATU is demanding more time off for union employees. The DTO flex policy allows emergency flex days with the company’s approval. ATU wants to remove this statement and allow carte blanche flex days anytime without notice. 3. Triple time – ATU is not willing to agree to double-time-and-a-half on holidays. 4. Outside work – ATU wants repairmen to continue to cut the grass at MTA facilities and perform janitorial work at the new Music City Central. In its final proposal, DTO is offering the bus drivers and mechanics: A generous 2.5 percent pay increase for each year of the proposed three-year contract for a total of 7.5 percent over the three years. o All retirees and surviving spouses would receive the same increases. o In 2005, six senior union bus drivers earned more than $70,000 with overtime. Thirty-two senior union bus drivers earned $50,000 to $70,000 with overtime. o The current average salary for bus operators is $36,000 a year, nearly $18 an hour. Faster progression through the pay step scale for bus drivers. o Senior operators would receive $19.36 an hour in the fourth year of employment instead of the fifth year. In addition, the DTO is offering a modest premium increase of only $5 per month for a major medical plan that now costs an employee and his/her family $100 a month, but cost the MTA an average of $762 per employee each month. -more- o The health plan includes major medical, as well as dental and vision. Employees currently pay only 10.4 percent of the total cost for such benefits. o Most businesses, as well as local and state government employees, pay significantly more for their health benefits. The average transit industry employee pays 22 percent. Increased life insurance from $30,000 to $35,000, provided at no cost to employees. Increased uniform allowance. Increased bereavement leave. DTO has asked for changes which are designed to remove unproductive work practices that have been added into the contract over the years in prior negotiations, such as the: Elimination of triple pay for union employees on holidays and offering double-time-and-a-half. Changing paid lunch times to unpaid for mechanics and substituting two paid breaks per eight-hour shift in addition to unpaid lunch. This overlaps maintenance work shifts by 30 minutes and provides continuity in repair work. Typical businesses do not provide employees with a paid lunch. Elimination of employees doing grass cutting and landscaping work and allowing firms to do this and the janitorial work at the new downtown transfer station to be built in the future. This will allow our staff to focus on core transit responsibilities such as keeping the buses in shape and repairing bus benches. The DTO management team is working on a contingency plan in the event of a work stoppage. Additional information will be posted to the Nashville MTA Web site www.nashvillemta.org. # # # Editor's Note: To request this information in an alternative format, please call 862-5950 and ask to speak with MTA's ADA Coordinator.