September 15, 2008

TCAT and Workers’ Union Reach Deal

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Tompkins Consolidated Area Transit announced early Friday morning that it had reached a tentative agreement with the United Auto Workers over contracts for its workers. The deal was the result of 17 consecutive hours of negotiations. Though the agreement — which specifies the salaries and benefits of all TCAT drivers and mechanics — still has to be formalized by the United Auto Workers on October 5, workers will continue to work under old contract conditions until the vote.
[img_assist|nid=31708|title=Big wheels keep on turnin’|desc=The Tompkins Consolidated Area Transit and the United Auto Workers reached a deal Friday morning over wage increases for TCAT drivers and mechanics.|link=node|align=left|width=|height=0]UAW Local 2300 President Terry Sharp told The Ithaca Journal that during negotiations, one of the leading issues was rising health insurance costs cutting into wage increases. Wages were said to have been one of the most important factors in the contract; many TCAT drivers work nine-hour days and feel that they deserve fair wages.
Sharp said that although the agreement represents tremendous gains for the workers, a strike is not out of the question for TCAT employees if agreements fall through.
“I don’t want to say we never will,” Sharp told The Journal. “Obviously if we got in there and they absolutely refused to bargain with us … our workers have an option to show them how important they are, not only to the company but to the community, too.”
When TCAT and the UAW had not come to an agreement on Thursday, Cornell announced a contingent plan in case a strike went into effect on Friday. The plan granted free parking on campus to all who take the bus to get to Cornell.