New York, NY – TWU Local 100 got a new five-year contract for workers at Liberty Lines Transit in Westchester County on Feb. 28. The contract covers more than 600 drivers and maintainers.
Major pre-bargaining goals on wages, dental, pension and sick days were achieved by the negotiating team, which included President Tony Utano; Vice President Peter Rosconi; Vice President and Chief of Staff Richard Davis; Private Operations Division Chair Carlos Bernabel; Liberty Lines Division Chair and Valhalla Deport Chair Tom Monaco; Yonkers Depot Chair Janet Rosa; Maintenance Chair John Cullen; Executive Board member Manny Agosto; and General Counsel Denis Engel.
“I am very proud of the work we did here for our members at Liberty in a very difficult bargaining atmosphere,” Utano said after sealing the deal. “Our team demonstrated unity, determination and professionalism throughout the process, and that is why we have come away with a tentative contract that I believe the membership will overwhelmingly endorse.”
Rosconi pointed to the pension component as being one of the biggest aspects of the agreement.
“Also bargaining to get two sick days which [the workers] never had before,” he said. “As far as benefits, the dental plan – there are 1500 more dentists in the program for a small fee. Wages are up 11% over 5 years. In maintenance, an increase in tool allowance and shoe allowance. In transportation increase in uniform allowance. Also an increase in safety awards – if you don’t have an accident in a certain amount of time you get an award.”
When asked if negotiating was more difficult due to COVID because of decreased ridership, Rosconi said, “It’s an issue, but knowing that eventually everything will be back to normal, everything seemed to fall into place.”
As far as wishing there was anything more in the contract that wasn’t there, he added, “We would have like to see a little more of wages and pension and on all ends. But for the time being and what we’re facing now, we’re very appreciative that we just have jobs at this point.”
Highlights of the contract include an 11-percent compounded wage increase over the five-year agreement as follows: Effective March 1, 2021, a 1.75% increase; Effective March 1, 2022, a 2.0% increase; Effective March 1, 2023, a 2.25% increase; Effective March 1, 2024, a 2.5% increase; Effective March 1, 2025, a 2.5% increase.
On pensions, the union secured a $10 increase in the multiplier formula, from the current $105.00 per month times years of service — to $115.00 per month times years of service for all years of service. The new formula would go into effect for those who retire after Jan. 1, 2022. The union secured a much-improved dental plan under the National Plan Plus, another pre-bargaining goal.
For the first time, the membership will get 7 days for sick time usage from among 3 personal days, two floating holidays and two sick days. Previously, the membership received six personal days a year, that in most cases, could not be converted for sick time because of a 48-hour notice rule, as well as other restrictions. The new sick program complies with the New York State Sick Leave Law.
On health care, the union maintained all benefits, and won a three-year freeze on employee contributions. After the three years, the plan’s finances will be reviewed in hopes of continuing the freeze.
Also on pensions, the union won a full five-year freeze on additional employee contributions. The union also secured increases in the uniform and cleaning allowances for Transportation, and the shoe and tool allowances for Maintenance. In transportation, negotiators secured an increase in the Articulated Bus bonus from 25 cents per hour to $1.00 per hour, which will add approximately $225,000 in wages for Operators. The sides also agreed on an upgraded “perfect attendance” bonus that could add one more day of additional pay for workers who hit the attendance mark for the entire year. The Memorandum of Understanding will be presented to the Local 100 Executive Board for review and approval later this month. It will then go to the membership for ratification.