Employee Union, Management Still At Loggerheads At CARTA

Thursday, May 17, 2018
Bus driver representative addresses CARTA board
Bus driver representative addresses CARTA board

The employee union and CARTA remain at loggerheads though CARTA Board Chairman Steve Jett has begun to allow bus driver representatives to speak at board meetings.

Officials of the local unit of the Amalgamated Transit Union have addressed the board the past two meetings after filing a federal lawsuit saying they had a right to do so.

On Thursday, Executive Director Lisa Maragnano went through a list of employee grievances and gave responses to each.

At the close of the meeting, Billy Nye, union vice president, said Mary Sparda was placed over training by Ms. Maragnano but has not developed an overall safety plan. He said bus drivers have not been trained concerning active shooter incidents.

Kathryn Smith, president, said no time is set aside for bus drivers to take bathroom breaks. She said, "That has been asked over and over."

She also said there were too many "courtesy stops" along the routes that made it difficult to keep on a schedule. Ms. Maragnano said some of those stops are necessary to accommodate riders in certain situations.

Bus drivers said employees are leaving CARTA in record numbers and ridership has gone way down. According to statistics handed out at the meeting, total CARTA ridership for the month was 103,623 - down from 246,829 the prior April. However, the transit ridership was not included because it was blacked out. Ms. Maragnano said that was due to a software issue.

The statistics (still minus the April transit numbers) said year to date ridership was at 2,188,658 compared to a prior year of 2,428,999.

Ms. Maragnano said some of the ridership drop related to Eastgate Mall and Hamilton Place Mall requiring new stops. 

Ms. Smith told the board, "We are all in this together. We have to listen to you all, and you have to listen to us."

Mr. Nye asked for a meeting that would include board members, but Chairman Jett did not agree that they would be included.

Ms. Maragnano said the fuss with the employee group "is taking a lot of time. I really would like to reach out. I have reached out."

Board member Patricia McKoy said there would "so much negativity and it hurts my heart."

She said, "I'm not saying that it's us and I'm not saying that it's them. We ought to just drop all of the negativity and treat each other as adults on both sides." 

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