VTA has over 2,100 employees and approximately 90% of them are represented by four bargaining units, or unions.
The VTA Labor Relations Department is responsible for negotiating and administering collective bargaining agreements with representatives from those unions regarding wages, hours, benefits and other terms and conditions of employment.
VTA currently has collective bargaining agreements, or contracts, with the following four unions:
- AFSCME Local 101 (American Federation of State County and Municipal Employees) AFL-CIO
- 227 AFSCME employees as of December 6, 2018
- AFSCME Contract 2016-2019
- ATU Local 265 (Amalgamated Transit Union)
- 1,569 ATU employees (bus and light rail operators, mechanics, etc.) as of December 6, 2018
- ATU Contract 2015-2018
- SEIU Local 521 (Service Employees International Union)
- 254 SEIU employees as of December 6, 2018
- SEIU Contract 2015-2018 (On 2/7/19, a 3-year successor labor agreement was approved and adopted by the VTA Board.)
- TAEA Local 21 (Transportation Authority Engineers and Architects Association)
- 38 TAEA employees as of December 6, 2018
- TAEA Contract 2016-2019 (current)
VTA employees represented by these bargaining units are subject to the terms and conditions of their respective contracts and the administrative policies and procedures applicable to their position.
Benefits at VTA
VTA offers its employees a generous benefits package which varies by representation unit and employee group. The specific elements of the benefits package depend on each group’s collective bargaining agreements and benefit policies.
The Bargaining Unit Negotiation Process
The goal of a negotiation process is to bargain in good faith to ultimately achieve a sustainable bargaining agreement (contract) that is fair to employees and the public alike. As a contract approaches its expiration, each bargaining unit engages in negotiations which provide a forum for frank and open discussions. These discussions are typically done in private to maximize the opportunity for a free exchange of proposals and views.
Even after a contract expires, the parties must continue to bargain in good faith for a successor agreement, while the terms of the expired contract continue.
VTA’s Board of Directors provides guidance to VTA management on the overall framework for bargaining. This direction reflects concern for our employees balanced by consideration of VTA’s financial position, review of compensation in comparable transit organizations, and other expenditures VTA must consider in order to provide quality transit service with long-term stability.
It is typical for both management and union leadership to actively trade, review, and respond to proposals from each other during negotiations. Contracts must be ratified by the membership of each union through a secret ballot process. The contract must then be approved by the VTA Board of Directors during a public meeting.
If the parties are unable to reach an agreement, either side may declare an impasse. If done by VTA, this requires Board approval. Under state law, either party may request, at any point during the negotiations process, that a state mediator be assigned to assist in reaching an agreement.
In the event of an imminent labor action or work stoppage that would have a negative impact on the public, VTA or a union can appeal to the Governor’s Office for what is known as a “cooling off” period. The Governor may then appoint a board to investigate the issues and make a report within seven days. The board may hold hearings and review documents. Strikes and lockouts are prohibited during this seven-day period.
If a finding is made that a labor action would “significantly disrupt public transportation services and endanger the public’s health, safety or welfare,” the California Attorney General may petition a court for a 60-day “cooling off” period.