Bus operators of SMART Local 1715 in Charlotte, N.C., on Saturday, Feb. 4, 2023, ratified a new collective bargaining agreement with a vote margin of 20 to 1.
The new contract for the operators for the Charlotte Area Transit System (CATS) calls for a significant wage increase, double-time for holidays and the additional holiday of Juneteenth. It also provides for night differential pay and an increase in the pension cap. There are also changes to the bidding of work process that favor operators who may be unable to bid when the process starts. All wage increases are retroactive to July 1, 2022.
“I would like to thank the negotiations committee consisting of General Chairperson Joseph Paglia, Vice General Chairperson and Local President Christy Kiser, Local Chairperson Stanley Valentine, Secretary & Treasurer Chris Johnson and Local Committee of Adjustment Secretary Sabrina White for their hard work and tireless effort to deliver a package that the members would accept,” SMART Transportation Division Bus Department Vice President Calvin Studivant said. “The negotiations took more than nine months to complete, but the committee stayed focused on the task at hand and they delivered.”
A member of Local 1715 (Charlotte, N.C.) lost his life over the weekend in a senseless act of gun violence after he was shot Friday while operating his bus in Charlotte, N.C.
Ethan Rivera, 41, a member of our union since May 2021, died Saturday while being treated at a Charlotte hospital. Police continue to investigate the homicide, which happened on West Trade Street near South Graham Street around 9:35 p.m., according to media reports.
Rivera had four passengers aboard his Charlotte Area Transit System bus when shots came from an SUV, police said. Rivera was hit by the gunfire, and he was taken to a hospital for treatment. No injuries to passengers were mentioned in media reports about the incident, and police continue to investigate the crime.
“Ethan was a native New Yorker who grew up in Brooklyn. When he came to work for Charlotte Area Transit System (CATS), co-workers bonded immediately to his good spirit,” said General Chairperson Joseph Paglia (GCA-TMD). “Ethan was well-liked and respected and you could not find anyone to say a negative word about him.
“He was a fun-loving man who always had a smile on his face. Ethan Rivera will be sorely missed and never forgotten. Rest in peace our friend and brother.”
“This is an absolutely heartbreaking situation that we are struggling to understand,” Bus Department Vice President Alvy Hughes said. “No one should have to deal with violence while trying to make a living doing their job. My heart and prayers are with his family and friends during this difficult time, and we mourn with all who knew Brother Rivera.
“He will be missed, and we hope and pray that police are able to quickly bring the perpetrators of this absolutely inexplicable crime to justice to bring solace to both his family and to his union brothers and sisters.”
SMART Transportation Division offers its sincere condolences to Brother Rivera’s family, his friends, Local 1715 and all who knew him.
This article will be updated as additional information is received.
On July 22 of this year, Local 1715 member Karen Taylor was shot five times in broad daylight while her Charlotte Area Transit Systems (CATS) bus was stopped to unload passengers. “…just as the last person stepped off of her bus, a man appeared out of nowhere and shot five times into her bus,” Taylor’s daughter, Latavia Clark, wrote on a gofundme page opened for Taylor. “All five shots struck my unsuspecting mother in her head, neck, shoulder and ear. One bullet and bullet fragments are still lodged in her skull.” Taylor has already had four surgeries and is facing more in the future. The road to recovery is expected to be a long one and the bills are adding up as Taylor’s worker’s compensation claim has been denied. Click here to donate or to leave your well wishes.
Members of SMART Transportation Division Local 1715 in Charlotte, N.C., overwhelmingly approved a new three-year contract, Friday, Sept. 9, reports Vice President Calvin Studivant. “I would like to thank General Chairperson (GCA TMD) Hasson Trent, Vice General Chairperson Brenda Moore, LCA TMD Secretary Ruby Crosby and Local President Bruce Wright for the long hours and hard work that they each put in to reaching this agreement,” Studivant said. Charlotte Area Transit System (CATS) operators will enjoy more favorable work rules, paid travel time to the Tryon and Davidson garages and lower healthcare insurance deductibles. The contract also includes an increased pension cap and 7.5 percent in general wage increases with retroactive pay.
Managed by the Public Transit Department of the city of Charlotte, CATS is the largest transit system between Atlanta and Washington, with over 70 local, express and regional bus routes. The company also manages a light rail system, services for the disabled and vanpools.
SMART Transportation Division Local 1715 bus operators employed by Transit Management of Charlotte, Inc., Dec. 12 ratified a three-year agreement with management, averting a possible strike.
The new agreement calls for annual wage increases, paid retroactively to July 1, plus the return of travel-time pay, a contract provision that previously had been negotiated away when the operators were represented by the Teamsters.
The contract also calls for an additional personal day and new bidding procedures during the run assignment that is more favorable to SMART membership.
The company is also required to use a health care provider supported by the union, or one that is comparable, resulting in a reduction in the health care contributions paid by our members.
SMART TD Alternate Vice President Calvin Studivant participated in the recent negotiations with Charlotte Area Transit System management when a strike by the operators appeared likely. He recognized the efforts of General Chairperson Kevin Moss, Vice General Chairpersons Hasson Trent and Brenda Moore, Local President Bruce Wright and General Committee Secretary William R. Brown for their tireless efforts in “resolving the issues at hand and working to get their members the best possible contract.”
Studivant also thanked Vice General Chairpersons Christy Kiser and Donell Taylor and Local Secretary & Treasurer Christopher Johnson for their roles in reaching the agreement.
“A lot of the bus operators here, we have families as well. We know the impact a strike would have caused on the people in the community,” said Moss.
“This has been a period of difficult negotiations, but we ended up with an agreement that’s within our financial parameters,” said Carolyn Flowers, CATS CEO.
CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Members of UTU Local 1715 have ratified a new agreement with Charlotte Area Transit by a three-to-one margin.
The new contract provides for wage increases, freezes employee contributions to health care insurance, restores travel time, adjusts work rules as sought by the membership, and adds a retiree health care plan.
Negotiations were led by General Chairperson Kevin Moss and Vice General Chairperson Hasson Trent, with assistance from Calvin Studivant, who is alternate vice president of the UTU Bus Department.
Studivant praised the efforts of Vice Local Chairperson Donnell Taylor, Local President Bruce Wright, Secretary Bill Brown and former General Chairperson Brenda Moore, along with Glennie Holland, Cheryl Brown, and Derrick Moss, and UTU International organizer Mike Lewis.
By Calvin Studivant Alternate Vice President, Bus Department
In late August, a federal appeals court vacated the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s final rule requiring electronic onboard recorders.
The court said the rule does not sufficiently protect drivers from being harassed by employers to remain at the wheel when they are fatigued. The final rule was scheduled to go into effect in June 2012. A lower court, which had set aside a challenge, was told to revisit the case.
The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals said the FMCSA “needs to consider what types of harassment already exist, how frequently and to what extent harassment happens, and how an electronic device capable of contemporaneous transmission of information to a motor carrier will guard against (or fail to guard against) harassment.”
As a member of the FMCSA advisory committee, I previously voiced concern over this rule, and it is comforting that our concerns were recognized by the appeals court. I expect the lower court will instruct the FMCSA to revise the rule to include better driver protection.
Also of interest to our bus members, the National Labor Relations Board has instructed all carriers subject to the National Labor Relations Act to inform employees of their rights to organize and be represented by a labor union. This will certainly help in our efforts to organize the unorganized. See the separate article on this ruling elsewhere in this issue of the newspaper.
Turning to news of our bus locals, members of Local 1715, Charlotte, N.C., recognize the quality of UTU representation. In recent weeks, three members were returned to work following successful processing of their grievances.
Additionally, the UTU has prevailed in 14 grievances that put $1,000 in back pay into the wallets of each of these Local 1715 members.
We also have begun contract negotiations with the carrier on behalf of Local 1715 drivers. As part of this process, we are restoring respect lost while represented by another organization prior to the UTU representation election victory earlier this year. We are in the process of delivering improved working conditions on the Charlotte property by modifying tentative contracts agreed to by the other organization.
Local 1715 also has completed its local elections. Kevin Moss was elected general chairperson, Hasson Trent was elected vice general chairperson, and Bruce Wright was elected local president. We are very proud of these new officers and the members.
Also in negotiations is Local 172 in Darby, Pa., where Vice President Vic Baffoni is assisting at the bargaining table.