Bus drivers vote to keep union
February 28, 2002
Bus drivers in the valley voted early this week to remain unionized under the Amalgamated Transit Union.
Although a majority of Roaring Fork Transit Agency drivers voted in November 2000 to form a union, this past December, 20 drivers signed a petition to decertify the union, forcing a vote under Colorado law. According to RFTA union president Jeff Flood, 60 drivers then voted to continue the union, and 36 voted to disband.
A total of 114 drivers were eligible to vote in Monday and Tuesday’s election.
“It’s the only law like it in the country, and it’s very anti-labor,” Flood said. “Twenty percent of the work force can petition [with the Colorado Division of Labor] and force a recertification, and it requires a majority of all eligible voters to pass, not just those who vote. That really puts the heat on. It makes it very difficult to sustain the union.”
Flood said he thinks the vote was timed for the busy winter season, when a high percentage of seasonal drivers are in town.
“It was timed for when we have a lot of seasonal drivers here, who don’t have a long-term stake in this operation and are not likely to even vote, and that counts as ‘no’ votes according to the law,” Flood said. “This vote was timed to undo the will of the majority, and it failed.”
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After just over a year of negotiations, the union recently reached an agreement on an employment contract that includes a 4 percent raise and increased job security. The Roaring Fork Transportation Agency board officially approved the contract at its Feb. 14 meeting.
“I couldn’t be happier – I’m very happy that 85 percent of the drivers voted,” Flood said.
He said he knows that there is a “certain minority” of drivers that are anti-union.
“But there is a clear majority that is pro-union,” he said.
Flood is halfway through his two-year term as president of the drivers’ union.