Published 26 Sep, 2011
In a major breakthrough, members of TWU Local 252 have confirmed the right to preferential hiring and union recognition with Veolia Transportation, selected by Nassau County to be the new private-sector contractor for LI Bus routes and operations.
“This is a huge victory for union solidarity and workers standing together,” said Pat Bowden, president of TWU Local 252, representing more than 930 workers at LI Bus. “Veolia told our members they had to re-apply for their current jobs as individuals. We said, ‘Actually, we’re in this together, and we’re going to apply together – as a union.’”
TWU Local 252 members who work at LI Bus will have preferential hiring rights for jobs with the new county bus service once they submit a completed job application. Applications must be submitted by Tuesday, October 11; the company had previously insisted on a Sept. 30 deadline.
Hundreds of union members have already turned in their applications to Local 252, despite a company demand that applications be given directly to Veolia. “When the company saw that our union had hundreds of applications in hand they realized that working together is the best way to have a qualified workforce to deliver the safe, reliable service that Nassau County residents have come to expect,” said Bowden.
“We look forward to working with Veolia and Nassau County to ensure that bus operations continue to meet the needs of our passengers, in a manner that is fair to workers and our families.”
Under terms of the agreement, reached today at a meeting between Bowden and TWU representatives and senior executives of Veolia Transportation, Veolia agreed that TWU members who are currently LI Bus employees will be hired first, in accordance with current job seniority, before any applications from new hires are accepted.
“All current LI Bus workers,” the agreement states, “will be presumed qualified for their current jobs or comparable jobs,” with exceptions for circumstances such as physical inability to perform the job or inability to comply with statutory requirements.
Veolia also agreed to recognize the decision of TWU members to continue to be represented by their union, upon receipt of 400 job applications from TWU Local 252. The union already has that many job applications in hand, said Bowden.
The parties also agreed to meet beginning on October 27 and 28th to negotiate a new collective bargaining agreement.
“Our position has been consistent all along,” said Bowden. “We believe our bargaining rights, our jobs, our pay and our pensions are protected by agreements signed by Nassau County officials when they accepted federal funds to acquire and operate LI Bus. We look forward to working with Veolia and Nassau County to discuss how to best implement these legal guarantees.”
Under terms of the agreement signed today, TWU Local 252 “reserves all rights” regarding determination of terms and conditions of employment, including the right to arbitration if necessary.
“Our goal is to reach a fair contract at the bargaining table,” said Bowden. “Today’s agreement is a very positive first step.”