Transit- Van drivers for Palm Tran Connection protest working conditions- Palm Beach Coast

Posted: February 8, 2013 in Uncategorized

Feb. 5, 2013

A small group of van drivers gathered before dawn to begin a daylong rally at Metro Mobility Management, the county’s paratransit provider. The workers were protesting low pay, 12-hour workdays and schedules that they say force them to break traffic laws or be late picking up their elderly and disabled customers.

Metro is the sole contractor for Palm Tran Connection, the paratransit division of Palm Tran, the county’s bus service provider.

Since it took over as sole paratransit provider in August, Metro has had numerous complaints of late or no-show vehicles and ran up more than $550,000 in fines by the end of 2012. In a one-week trial period that ended Tuesday, performance rose to 90 percent, after Metro added vehicles and Palm Tran, the county’s transportation agency, provided scheduling services previously done by Metro.

The rally also brought to the forefront labor problems that have been simmering between Metro and the Amalgamated Transit Union. After the union was certified to represent drivers in 2008, Metro officials refused to bargain with the union and reduced work schedules, a violation of federal labor regulations. A federal appeals court upheld the ruling of the National Labor Relations Board. Metro appealed the NLRB’s ruling of unfair labor practices.

At the county commission board meeting Tuesday afternoon, Commissioner Shelley Vana said her aides continue to get complaints about bad service and pressed for a date to make a decision about whether to keep or replace Metro.

“I am not defending the contractor, and as the board you will tell us what you want to do, but we’re not there yet,” said County Administrator Bob Weisman.

Stanley Voice, a longtime observer and critic of Palm Tran, reminded the commissioners that one of their duties was to oversee Palm Tran.

“Nobody has oversight over Palm Tran,” Voice said, “and that is your responsibility going forward.”

http://www.palmbeachpost.com/news/news/local/van-drivers-for-palm-tran-connection-protest-worki/nWGnn/

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