Clallam Transit buses line up to take on passengers at The Gateway transit center in downtown Port Angeles on Tuesday. Photo by Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News

Clallam Transit buses line up to take on passengers at The Gateway transit center in downtown Port Angeles on Tuesday. Photo by Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News

Clallam Transit board approves labor agreement

The Clallam Transit board has approved a three-year labor agreement that provides retroactive pay and three years worth of raises for bus drivers, dispatchers and other employees.

Board members voted 6-0 on Oct. 15 to approve a contract with Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) Local 587.

Alternate Randy Johnson abstained, saying he had not been privy to the negotiations. Johnson, who is also a Clallam County commissioner, shared concerns expressed by other Clallam Transit board members that language in the contract had not been finalized.

Gina Monger, Clallam Transit human resources administrator, asked the board to approve the contract before it had been finalized to stop the backlog of retroactive wages.

“We can then at least start paying them the new wages now, and then start working on the calculations for the retro,” Monger said.

“I honestly don’t know when (the contract) would actually be ready for print and distribution.”

Under the terms of the agreement, fixed-route and maintenance employees will receive a 3 percent raise to be paid retroactively for all of this year.

Those workers will receive a 3.25 percent pay hike in 2019 and a 3 percent raise in 2020.

Paratransit employees will get a retroactively-paid 4.25 percent raise this year followed by 4-percent raise in each of the next two years.

Additional health care contributions will be made to ATU employees at every fifth year of employment, according to the terms of the agreement.

Union members ratified the labor agreement in a 54-3 vote Oct. 7.

“I think there’s 75 members of the union, so it was a good turnout,” Transit General Manager Kevin Gallacci told the board.

Gallacci said the negotiations were “unique” and “complex” because of changes in ATU leadership and because separate labor agreements for fixed route/maintenance and paratransit employees were combined into one contract.

ATU Local 587 Representative Ed Stanard said the 2018-20 labor agreement was a “challenge” and required “a lot of work.”

The negotiations began in October 2017.

“You folks deserve a big pat on the back,” Stanard told the Clallam Transit department heads. “You did a lot of the work. It was actually relieving to have a group that we could work with.”

Monger said the parties negotiated in good faith.

Given the complexity of the consolidated agreement, Monger predicted there would be “voluminous” yet non-substantive changes to the final language in the contract.

“We’ll go back and cross the T’s and dot the I’s that we missed,” Stanard said.

Earlier in the meeting, Clallam Transit board member and Port Angeles City Council member Lindsey Schromen-Wawrin had raised concerns about voting on a document that had not been finalized.

“I’m OK with the board approving the direction that this is going in, but I can’t approve a final document until it’s a final document,” Schromen-Wawrin said.

Monger agreed that it was “not ideal” that the board was being asked to approve an incomplete document.

“We wanted to make sure you had the economic items, because that is where I believe the board’s interest is — to make sure that we are using public funds wisely and at the same time recognizing our employees and our process,” Monger said.

Clallam Transit receives taxpayer funding and is governed by an eight-member board composed of two Clallam County commissioners and two representatives of the Port Angeles, Sequim and Forks city councils.

Sequim Deputy Mayor Candace Pratt said the Transit board had been “kept up to speed” throughout the negotiations.

“They can’t print the final document until they get our agreement,” Pratt said. “It’s a chicken-and-egg sort of thing.”

Schromen-Wawrin ultimately made a motion to approve the agreement, saying he understood the need for immediate action.

“I think in the future, for an agreement that the board approves, we should actually be able to see the agreement,” Schromen-Wawrin said.

“It’s not OK to just submit a draft.”

Gallacci apologized for the complexity of the contract and for “not having all of the information there right now.”

“I don’t know what more we could have done,” Gallacci added.

“I’m thankful that the union was able to step up and move forward and work with us.”

Port Angeles Deputy Mayor Kate Dexter agreed that the Transit board should have access to documents prior to future votes.

“I’m grateful that we got to this point today so we can get everyone on the right wage scale,” Dexter added.

Rob Ollikainen is a reporter with the Olympic Peninsula News Group, which is composed of Sound Publishing newspapers Peninsula Daily News, Sequim Gazette and Forks Forum. He can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 56450, or at rollikainen@peninsuladailynews.com.

Transit seeking input

The Clallam Transit System (CTS) is revising its comprehensive plan and wants to hear from the public. “Connecting Clallam,” the system’s comprehensive plan for public transportation in Clallam County, aims to provide guidance to Clallam Transit’s Board and staff as they make decisions shaping the future of public transportation. Community members are invited to share ideas at one of several upcoming scheduled open houses:

• 2-4 p.m., Thursday, Nov. 15 — Forks Library

• 5:30-7:30 p.m., Thursday, Nov. 15 — Clallam Bay Library

• 5:30-7:30 p.m., Tuesday, Nov. 27 — Port Angeles Library

• Noon-2 p.m., Thursday, Nov. 29 — Sequim Library

• 2-4 p.m., Monday, Dec. 3 — Makah Community Hall, Neah Bay

• 2-4 p.m., Wednesday, Dec. 5 — Red Cedar Hall, Blyn

• 2-4 p.m., Wednesday, Dec. 12 — Quileute Tribal Center, La Push

For more information, review the CTS draft comprehensive plan at www.clallamtransit.com (under “CTS Latest News”). Or, email to info@clallamtransit.com.

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