RTS Union Declares Impasse in Pay Negotiations with City of Gainesville
Published January 29th, 2014
GAINESVILLE -- Pay negotiations between bus drivers and the City of Gainesville came to screeching halt late Tuesday after the union representing drivers declared an impasse.
During a bargaining session on Tuesday, officials from the Amalgamated Transit Union and the City of Gainesville failed to reach an agreement on how much RTS bus drivers should be paid.
Members of the union local -- who say RTS drivers are already some of the lowest paid transit workers in the entire state -- rejected a previous plan by the city to give all drivers a 1.5 percent pay increase. Instead, the union asked for a gradual 'pay-scale' plan -- or automatic raises based on time served.
"They're stuck at base pay. There's no path for pay progression in the current contract," said Mary Frances Folz-Donahue, president of ATU Local 1579.
"I have had a number of people leave for better-paying jobs," said Folz-Donahue.
But city leaders were reluctant to go along with the union's pay-scale plan, saying it is too expensive in this current budget cycle.
"The city is really going through a very difficult time right now," said Bob Woods, spokesman for the City of Gainesville.
"They are somewhat constrained in the available options they have to choose from," said Woods.
Both sides of the negotiating table will now meet before an independent arbitrator, a process that could take 6 months -- possibly even longer -- to reach a decision.
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