(KCPW News) Union representatives for 750 Utah Transit Authority employees are threatening to go to court if the UTA board of trustees doesn’t repeal a labor contract it adopted without union support. Amalgamated Transit Union Local 382 President Rod Dunn says the UTA prematurely withdrew from the contract negotiations.
“We are open to going back to the table and we have let UTA know that very clearly since they stopped negotiating December 4,” Dunn says. “We’ve been willing to negotiate since then and still, except they made the decision not to negotiate anymore.”
The UTA claims it has the authority to enact a contract for employees, even without union approval. However, Dunn and union attorney Joe Hatch say they must first go through a fact-finding process, where an impartial third party recommends a contract and invites public comment on it. Hatch says this is the first time in the nation that the fact-finding step has been ignored. He says the company agreed to operate under fair labor practices in a contract with the federal government and says skipping fact-finding is a violation of that provision of the federal contract. Hatch says UTA should repeal the new contract and invoke fact-finding.
“Here’s what I’m hoping: I’m hoping they’ll wake up and say, ‘Gosh, no other transit district has ever done this. We’ve never heard of this being done. Why are we doing this when all we have to do is let’s go to fact-finding?’ And maybe it’s the fog of Christmas or something, but we’re baffled by it,” Hatch says.
The new contract went into effect on Monday for about 1,300 employees. Hatch and Dunn say the new contract raises concerns about work conditions for drivers and increasing health premium costs, among other concerns.