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Buses stay on course, avoid work stoppage
Joshua Knopp / Contributing Writer
A labor shortage that nearly affected the UNT bus system and the university’s students was averted yesterday when two national organizations reached an agreement over transit labor.
Since April, the Amalgamated Transit Union and First Transit Inc. have been without a collective bargaining agreement.
The ATU represents transportation workers, such as bus drivers, throughout the nation while First Transit Inc. is a national contracting company that Denton County Transportation Authority uses to supply the transportation workers.
On Sunday night, the DCTA’s official Twitter account tweeted that the campus’ bus systems could have been affected by the labor disputes. An email was also sent to UNT students in preparation for the stoppage.
Transit workers had been operating buses without an agreement since April, but DCTA was afraid labor would stop Monday while the local ATU held a ticket information picket to inform the public of the dispute.
According to information provided by Geary Robinson, director of parking and transportation services, over 2 million UNT students used DCTA bus services last academic year.
Local ATU president Kenneth Day said a labor stoppage was never the plan.
“The only thing we planned for today was an informational package for the public,” Day said. “We never planned a work stoppage. We just wanted to let the public know we were having this dispute.”
The fear of the labor stoppage that wasn’t planned spurred the two sides to reach a new collective bargaining agreement over the weekend.
Day said the main point of disagreement was retroactive pay for workers.
Dee Leggett, vice president of program development with DCTA, said that while the DCTA isn’t involved in contract negotiations between First Transit and the ATU, they were prepared to maintain bus service with non-union bus drivers and supervisors stepping in.
Pre-engineering freshman Jose Reyes said the access buses give to greater Denton is important, especially when getting to his classes at Discovery Park.
“Public transportation is a very important addition to any community,” he said.
Speech junior Jacob Atchison said the bus service is vital to his routine.
“I think it’s really important because they go to almost all the classes that I need, and I really feel safe on the bus,” he said. “I most likely wouldn’t get where I needed to go [without buses].”