SARTA reached a new three-year contract with its union employees.
The Stark Area Regional Transit Authority said it has reached a three-year contract with its bus drivers, mechanics, maintenance workers and other union employees.
SARTA Executive Director Kirt Conrad said American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Local 1880 ratified the agreement 101-26 on Tuesday. SARTA’s board approved the dea Wednesday retroactive to Jan. 4. Negotiations started in January.
The AFSCME representative who negotiated the deal could not be reached for comment Friday evening.
SARTA officials said under the deal, which runs until January 2016, the SARTA employees get annual 2 percent raises.
But they have agreed to pay $500 a year of the premiums for health insurance, an increase from $150.
In return for an extra personal day off for employees in observance of the Martin Luther King holiday, the union agreed to the creation of a new lower-paid job classification.
Conrad said law requires that operators of vehicles with at least 15 passengers have a commercial driver’s licenses. But SARTA plans to experiment with vehicles that carry fewer passengers for its ride-by-appointment ProLine service.
Under the contract, SARTA could hire drivers without commercial driver’s license and pay them $3 an hour less than regular bus drivers.
Conrad said the raises and extra personal day will cost the agency an additional $300,000 annually.
SARTA attorney Gust Callas said the union also agreed to remove the ambiguity from the absentee policy, effectively allowing more prior violations of the policy to provide a clear basis for firing a repeatedly late or absent employee.
Conrad said bus drivers will get bonuses of $75 for each accident-free quarter and $25 for each quarter of perfect attendance.