Austin bus company required to compensate workers for its unfair labor practices

The National Labor Relations Board recently announced that a settlement was reached in an unfair labor practices dispute between Travis Transportation Management, Inc. and Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) Local 1091 of Austin.

The settlement calls for Travis Transportation to pay $655,000 to its 600 employees as compensation for lost benefits and wages.

The NLRB filed a complaint against Travis after Local 1091 charged the company with unfair labor practices.

The charge resulted from actions taken by Travis Transportation and McDonald Transportation Associates during contract negotiations.

“The National Labor Relations Board Region 16 office in Fort Worth agreed with (Local 1091) that the Employer violated the National Labor Relations Act,” said the NLRB in a media statement about the settlement.

The dispute that led to the settlement began in 2012 when Cap Metro, the Austin area’s regional transportation authority, decided to fully privatize bus service and awarded a contract to McDonald Transit Associates for the operation of 44 of Cap Metro’s bus routes.

McDonald subcontracted with Travis Transportation to operate its newly awarded routes.

As a condition for taking over the bus routes, McDonald and Travis were required to recognize Local 1091, which had a collective bargaining agreement with its previous employer. McDonald and Travis were also required to negotiate a new collective bargaining agreement with Local 1091.

The negotiations that took place turned out to be a sham.

As soon as it was feasible, McDonald and Travis declared a bargaining impasse and, according to the NLRB, unilaterally and illegally implemented cuts to employee benefits and pay.

They reduced employer pension and health insurance contributions, They made workers pay more out-of-pocket expenses for medical treatment, and they implemented a two-tier pay system that resulted in lower pay for new hires.

The companies also tried to squelch on-the-job organizing by the union and discriminated against union leaders.

McDonald is a Fort Worth-based company that contracts with a number local governments and regional transportation authorities for transportation and related services.

McDonald is a subsidiary of  RATP Dev America, which in turn is owned by the RATP Group, a public corporation owned by the French government.

The RATP Group operates most of Paris’ transportation system. It also operates other public transportation systems throughout the world.

After McDonald and Travis unilaterally implemented their cuts, members of Local 1091 voted to authorize a strike.

There was some speculation that a strike would take place in 2012 during the initial run of Austin’s new Formula 1 Grand Prix racing event, but a strike never materialized.

The union, however, did file unfair labor practices charges against its members’ new employer.

Local 1091 originally sought $1.3 million as compensation for the employers’ illegal actions.

In addition to paying $655,000 in compensation, Travis Transportation must also post notices in the workplace providing workers with details of the settlement and notifying workers of their right to join a union and bargain collectively.

The Austin Chronicle reports that Local 1091 President Jay Wyatt called the settlement, “a major vindication of workers’ rights and a ‘major victory of (Travis) employees’.”

 

 

 

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